Understanding Acts | Peter’s Release | Acts 12.11-19| Movementministriesblog.com

by | Dec 30, 2022

“Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.” 12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” 15 “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” 16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place. 18 In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. 19 After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.” Acts 12.11-19

Christmas is over and the New Year is fast approaching and I’m returning to my series “Understanding Acts” as I read through the life and growth of the early church. I find this narrative of Peter’s release from prison both a joyous and saddening account.

The joy is of course in the release of this leading apostle. Being Jesus’ top guy, his work was just beginning and the Lord could not have him in prison. The humor is when Rhoda goes to answer the door, realizes it is Peter knocking, and then returns to the others inside the house without opening the door! And yet the sad part of this story comes at the end, after Peter is released, the sixteen soldiers who were guarding his cell were executed because of his escape.

The Bible is filled with these kind of circumstances of both life and death. All throughout Scripture we see those who are suffering either because of the Gospel or in opposition to it. Some might say how unfair for God to chose sides! Where is the justice in this? And I might respond with the argument that people have made their own choices. God’s action is in response to their sin.

Although Peter’s release resulted in the death of sixteen men, this did not have to be so. The law of Romans to punish soldiers for escaping was their brutal act. They could have punished them in non-lethal ways. Is God to blame for the actions of these men? 

Let’s consider how the freedom of Peter from prison would help reach hundreds, thousands and eventually millions with the good news of the Gospel by saving people from the penalty of sin and death and granting all who believe eternal life. Is the saving of a human life more important than rescuing a soul for eternity?

From an initial look, it appears although God is choosing sides of two groups of people. But in truth, God has chosen his own side and those who flourish have chosen God’s side along with him. Those who pay the penalty of sin and disobedience chose a part from the Lord. They chose to go their own way and must suffer the consequences for their actions.

Are we any different? We have choices to make every day, choices to live for God or give in to sin, selfishness and Satan. It’s tempting to “do what feels good,” but the better, harder, and more rewarding choice is to obey Christ’s commands and seek the way of holiness. This is a lessen I am learning daily.

The Gospel might not have been advanced had Peter not been released from prison. His imprisonment in the first place was unjust. His release encouraged the early church and allowed for many more to find faith, hope and love in Christ.

What impact will your actions have on the advance of the Gospel today? How will your behavior promote or prevent God’s grace from spreading throughout the world?

“O Lord God, your ways are higher. Thank you for loving me. Protect me from the evil one! Help me choose to live for you, to be filled by your Spirit, and to know the ways of your Son. Come now, Lord God, find me waiting and willing. Allow me to make an impact for the Kingdom so others might know your love and saving grace. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen