The apostle James is martyred by King Herod for political favor with the Jews.
Peter is arrested and jailed, pending passover. The church prays. An angel appears and frees Peter from bondage and takes him out of the jail, past a number of guards.
Peter knocks on the door of the house where many are praying. Rhoda recognizes his voice and is too excited to open the door. Peter is let in, asks them to spread the word, then leaves.
Commotion ensues. Herod orders search for Peter and executes the guards.
Tyre and Sidon negotiate peace and bow to Herod. He presents himself as a god, not a man, but dies that day and learns he was wrong.
But the word of God continued to increase and spread. Barnabas and Saul are joing by Mark.
13. I saw 3 different lessons:
James died. As we read these biblical stories it is important to remember that this is real. In the movies main characters such as one of the sons of Thunder, who had been with Jesus at so many critical moments, aren’t murdered for political favor. No matter what some modern day prosperity preachers may lead people to believe, the bible does not promise believers an easy time, free of persecution and pain – at least not in this life! But it does say we will be filled with Joy.
Peter slept. The night before his trial and probable execution. Shortly after the murder of one of his closest friends. Shackled to not one but two guards, in prison behind 2 more sets of guards and an iron gate. Peter was sound asleep. Is there any better verse to show the the peace and joy these believers felt even in the midst of persectuation?
There is only one God. Everyone else who thought themselves a god or was thought of by others as a god is dead or will die. Only God is eternal.
Even through the valleys of life, the word of God continues to increase and spread.
- God gives great gifts. When we think about it, what do we really want? An easy time or amazing peace and joy in even the worst of situations? This level of peace and joy is only found in the gift of the spirit.
- God is sovereign. God is the king of kings but a king is never a god.
I love the lessons in this chapter. The tales of hardship and sadness combined with peace and joy. The thought of Peter sound asleep, needing a whack on the side to wake up. But through it all 2 verses really touch my heart.
The first is 12:5 “but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” Notice it isn’t a few ladies at the church or some people showed up for a prayer vigil. It is “the church”. What an amazing song that must make to God to have the entire body of believers on the earth united in earnest prayer.
The second is the story of Rhoda in versus 13-16. It may stem from too many Mary Tyler Moore episodes in my youth (Rhoda Morgenstern), but I picture all of the people in the room with heavy Bronx accents (Like Mike Meyers on an SNL “coffee talk” skit). Quiet Rhoda is all of a sudden bounding around the room jumping like a cheerleader while the people in the room kvetch, “the girl has lost her marbles. she’s crazy.” And then the look on their faces when they open the door. But the really funny and touching part to me is that, this is exactly what they were there praying for. I catch myself doing that. I pray earnestly to God. He grants my prayer, and I am so shocked and amazed that God did it that I am, literally, in disbelief.
On a macabre note, you may have noticed Acts 12:23, “he was eaten by worms and died.” At first I thought this meant he died and then decomposed, but upon further investigation I learned, it is what it says. One of the way historians know who this King Herod was (Agrippa), since there are a number with the same name, is by note of his death. It is suspected that he had Fournier’s Gangrene consisting of necrosis of the perineum and genitalia. In comparison, death by the sword doesn’t sound so bad at all!