Daily Devotional: Tuesday 31st March

by William Moody

Acts 12:1–17

James Killed and Peter Imprisoned

12:1 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

Peter Is Rescued

Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” 16 But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.”1 Then he departed and went to another place.

Footnotes

[1] 12:17 Or brothers and sisters

(ESV)

The life of the church will have many ‘ups and downs’. After a very positive period the church now experiences renewed opposition (v1-4).

We need to be ready for the good and the bad days. When bad days come, we must not see them as shocking as if they are unexpected. But neither should we become so negative as to not expect the good days again.

The killing of James and the arrest of Peter would have been shocking to the church, so they respond by doing the most important thing they could (v5).

Here we have a wonderful example of how prayer changes things (v6-11). Peter is miraculously delivered by an angel. We must remember that the God we pray to today, is the same God, with the same power. This passage should encourage us to pray for persecuted brothers and sisters across the world.

When Peter is released, he makes his way to the house of Mary where the church was meeting to pray (v12). When Peter knocks and Rhoda discovers who it is, the believers just can’t believe this (v13-15). This is quite amusing, but it also show that as these people were praying, undoubtedly for Peter’s deliverance, they were praying with little expectation of their prayer being answered. Do you pray like that? Talk to God about this.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®),
copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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