Understanding Acts | James’ Demise | Acts 12.1-4| Movementministriesblog.com

by | Dec 13, 2022

“It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” Acts 12.1-4

I realize during this time most people are writing devotionals about Christmas. We are in the advent season, and I recognize that. However, I feel like the Lord is keeping me in the book of Acts. All of this happens after the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. All of this is the post-Christmas propagation of the Gospel. So in a sense, this is Advent related! Jesus has already come, lived 33 years, and now has returned to the Father and those he recruited are under great distress.

James, one of the very first followers of Jesus, who was one of the “three” along with Peter and John, has just died. King Herod, the grandson of Herod the Great who persecuted the baby Jesus and all the boys under two killed in Bethlehem, is now persecuting the church (for more on which Herod is which visit https://www.gotquestions.org/Herods.html). This ruler is King Herod Agrippa, and is keeping in step with his evil grandfather and father Herod Antipas who stood over Jesus’ trial. The bloodline of these Jewish leaders appointed by Rome are anti-Messiah and always trying to destroy the church.

James, a beloved disciple of Jesus, was put to death. This pleased the Jews and so Herod Agrippa seized Peter as well planning to put him to death also. He arrested Peter, put him in prison guarded by 16 soldiers. The text tells us Herod “intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.” Peter remained in prison and meanwhile “the church was earnestly praying to God for him.”

In the midst of trial and tribulations, in the midst of the death of the leader James, and the imprisonment of Peter, the church was praying. The church wasn’t rebelling or resorting to violence. They did not return violence with violence. They prayed. They relied upon the Lord to deliver them from their oppressors. As a result, they prayed. And as we will see soon enough, their prayers were indeed answered by God.

James’ death and demise resulted in an amazing miracle of God. It also resulted in the church turning their dependence upon the Lord. They who were without means of defense, found God to be their defender. They who were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit turned to the supernatural, for God in his hidden world, to bring about redemption.

I wonder how often we pray? I wonder if when hard times come if we do every human act possible and forget about the supernatural, about the Risen Christ, about the Holy Spirit who is always at hand?

Let’s turn to God in prayer. Let’s rely on his strength. As spiritual descendants from both James and Peter, let us remain faithful to our calling, steadfast in hope and diligent in prayer. Until Jesus comes or calls.

“O Lord God, Advent is about anticipating your birth. I see in Acts the aftermath of your coming. The birth of your church and the explosion of your Gospel over the entire Ancient Near East. Come now, Holy Father, make your way into my heart. Allow me to walk with you in joy knowing your grace surrounds me. I love you Lord and praise your name. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen