“And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.”
Today’s powerful verse passage recounts how Peter miraculously escaped death at the hands of Herod Agrippa’s executioners. Seeing it pleased the church’s Jewish antagonists, Agrippa arrested and killed the apostle James and fully intended to do the same to Peter (Acts 12:1-4). This account highlights God’s God’s amazing grace and absolute sovereignty. James died and went to his reward according to God’s plan, while Peter was miraculously delivered. We cannot understand all of God’s ways (Romans 11:33) but we trust they are always done in righteousness and for the purpose of greater goods (Romans 8:28). Peter himself is a stellar object lesson. Instead of laying awake with anxiety, Peter no doubt recalled the words of Jesus, Who declared that Peter would glorify God at his death when he was old (John 21:18-19). Knowing that he was not yet old, Peter must have seen himself as temporarily sealed from death. Having received instruction from the resurrected Christ, He knew that physical death was nothing to fear anyway. No doubt he agreed with Paul, who declared that from him “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Focusing on Peter’s deliverance, we see many parallels with our own personal redemptive histories. As unbelievers, we too were in darkness (Ephesians 5:8), held captive as servants of sin (John 8:34; Romans 6:17). Most certainly, Satan had intended to destroy us, as Herod intended to destroy Peter. As the angel appeared and light flooded the prison, at some point in our redemptive histories someone came to us carrying the Gospel, which shines like a light in a dark place (2 Peter 1:19). God’s word accomplished its intended work in us and we were awakened from our unregenerate slumber (Ephesians 5:14). Our “chains” fell off also; we ceased being slaves of sin, becoming sons of the Most High God (John 1:12). “And because ye are sons,” wrote Paul, “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:6-7). Now children of God by faith in Christ, we are free both from sin’s condemnation (Romans 8:1) and its power (Romans 6:15-22). May our outward conduct reflect these amazing realities, and may these reflections be a help and an encouragement to you.