This chapter starts with a tragic event, the death of James, John’s brother. King Agrippa, also known as Herod, was evil. Like his predecessors before him, he attempted to kill the anointing. When he saw how delighted the Jewish leaders were with the execution of James, he imprisoned Peter. It’s sick seeing his delight in the suffering of others. However, he had to know how powerful the Holy Spirit was because he set 16 guards around Peter. SIXTEEN men were standing watch over one preacher. That is fear. Fear of the possible miracles that seem to follow them there Christ-followers around.
Yet even Seal Team 16 was no match for one liberating angel.
Can we explore the emotion that may have been floating around in the room? James is slaughtered. Peter imprisoned. James is not rescued yet Peter is sent an angel to break him out of jail. Peter knew how this could play out. He lived through the moments of watching Jesus grieve John the Baptist's death yet raise Lazarus from the dead.
We can’t even attempt to figure this out, but I am sure we have had the questions; Why was she healed, and he wasn’t? Why did God let my child die, and sister so and so’s kid was healed? Why am I suffering from illness when I have done everything right, and my smoking, drinking, fried food eating uncle is as healthy as an ox.
I wish I had had answers to these tough questions, but I don’t. These are not for us to know, but it’s still okay for us to ask. As I am sure, Peter had a few questions while surrounded by the gladiators. He had to be grieving his friend and fellow Jesus follower as he sat in prison, barefoot and stripped to his skivvies. He had to wonder if he was next. But Peter also knew the story that John had fulfilled his mission. He knew that death was not an end. Perhaps he was quoting Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”
As the chapter continues, we read how surprised Peter was that he was rescued and guided by an angel. He thought it was a vision, “Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!” Acts 12:11 NLT
But Peter is not the only one surprised by his rescue. A house full of believers got a surprise. You can’t blame them for praying and hoping but also knowing it could go another way. After all, they were grieving James, who they more than likely praying for his rescue too.
This chapter serves as a reminder that God’s ways are far beyond anything we can understand or imagine. I have personally seen my grief and pain turned into His plan and purpose. Had he rescued me when I cried out, I would have missed a greater miracle. I have grieved ones I have prayed for healing and have celebrated with others who received what I was praying for. I wish I could wrap this chapter up with a bow, but I can't. However, there is a very satisfying end to the chapter. Let’s just say ego kills.