Journal Acts 12 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. (Herod) killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also…
And when (Herod) had seized (Peter), he put him into prison, delivering him over to 4 squads of soldiers (approximately 45-50 soldiers) to guard him…
Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between 2 soldiers, bound with 2 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. (The angel) 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 (Peter) did so. And (the angel) said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me…” Acts 12:1-8
Observation: Sometimes I look for “special” things, other times I look for a good story. This is one of the latter times…
Analysis: Acts 12 is a good story. I think it gets better with imagining rather than just dry reading.
I think about Herod, the wicked man that he was, killing off James and basking in the praise of the equally wicked Jews. Maybe covered with martyrs’ blood, Herod is working off the high that comes with committing violence realizes the crowd likes this—it is like a professional wrestling match: “Hit him again with the folding chair; Atomic knee drop!!”
So, Herod decides to go after Peter, the dangerous man that Peter is, and sends 4 squads of soldiers (45 guys) to pick him up—like sending two full SWAT teams after John Piper. Peter is so dangerous (came in peacefully, right, although he does have a record of wielding a deadly weapon. Remember that story? Whacked the ear off a soldier at Gethsemane but Jesus put it back on, so no charges filed.) that he is shacked, manacled, made naked, and forced to sleep between two soldiers, another set of soldiers at the cell door, another set of soldiers guarding the prison, etc.
Dead of night and an angel appears. Lightly (maybe not so lightly) kicks Peter’s side, “Wake up, Pete, wake up and get dressed—don’t forget your shoes…” and waltzes out of the prison without any being the wiser.
What I think is cool about this is the abundance of detail Luke gives. I short-cutted the story to not type as much and Luke could have as well. But look at the details!! Just wait until Peter shows up at the door: “Knock knock” “Who’s there?” “Peter” “Peter who?” Come on, let me in!! Nuh-huh, you are dead. Am not. Are too..and on it goes…
What’s the point? Well, no point, really, except for how thorough the Holy Spirit is. This is the way the Bible should be read—not dry, but with life.
It isn’t the living Word for just yucks.
Prayer: Father, thank you for this reading. Buoyed my spirit, thinking about how this went. Herod was a bummer, and I am sorry for James; Peter and the Angel was a hoot.
It goes to show that you are Sovereign God, maker of heaven and earth and the earth is your footstool.
Ricky Two Shoes