Acts 12:11-17 (NIV)
Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.”
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. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”
“You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”
But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 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 brothers about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.
After the angel vanished, Peter realized that he was still outside and that the wind was still cool on his face. This must not be a dream after all; this must be God’s deliverance!
His first instinct was to go to the home of Mary, John Mark’s mother, the house where the upper room had served as the location for the Last Supper, and which still served as the central meeting place for the Jerusalem Church. He knew that his release meant that the Church was praying, and he knew that they would be praying at Mary’s house.
The door was locked as usual. The Church had been on the defense since the beginning. But now, with the arrests first of James and now of Peter, security was even more vital. Peter knocked firmly, and when those inside heard the sound, they immediately grew silent. Rhoda, a servant girl, was sent to see who it was.
Rhoda didn’t open the door, but called out, “Who is it?” from inside. Peter answered, not nearly as loudly, “It’s me, Simon Peter.” Rhoda knew Peter’s voice and recognized it at once. She was so excited that she didn’t even think to open the door. She just ran back into the room where the disciples were gathered and announced, “Peter is at the door!”
The first reaction of those who were praying was disbelief. Yes, they had been praying for Peter to be saved. But they hardly expected that he would simply walk out of the prison and knock at the door! But Rhoda was adamant that it really was Peter. She had recognized his voice. Some were suddenly fearful. Maybe they had already executed him, and his spirit had come to tell them!
Meanwhile, Peter was wondering what was going on. He couldn’t just stand out there in the street. The guards could come looking for him any moment. So, he knocked again, a little louder each time until the sound was heard over the conversation going on inside. Rhoda, suddenly red-faced, realized she had left him standing outside at the door, and ran to let him in.
As soon as the door opened and the people could see that it really was Peter, they were astonished. Peter quieted them down with a wave of his hand, and quickly shared the story of his miraculous escape.
Peter didn’t want to put these people in danger, so he decided that he couldn’t stay in the house. He would leave town for a bit until things cooled down. But as he left, he instructed them to bring James and the other leaders up to date on these events. Then he was gone.
Father, how often do we pray without really believing that You can or will answer? Thank You that, in so many instances, our sometimes-shaky faith doesn’t prevent You from acting in answer to our pleas. And then, when You do answer with mighty miracles, we are awed and even fearful. Forgive us, Lord, for our lack of faith. Help us to continue to pray even though our faith is shaky, even if we must admit, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NIV) And when You do answer, help us to share the story with everyone, so that You receive all the praise and glory. Amen.
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