PRISON DOORS OPENED BY AN ANGEL
“The Lord knoweth them that are his” (II Timothy 2:19).
Working for Jesus
In our study of the Apostle Peter, we learned that he worked for Jesus. His work reached to Jerusalem. Probably on every street in Jerusalem and other cities the people talked about the strange and wonderful things that were happening. Many people were being saved from their sins. The sick people and those who had unclean spirits were healed.
Did you ever notice that as the sun moves across the sky the shadows become longer and longer near the end of the day? Perhaps when the day was nearly over, many people in the City of Jerusalem waited for the touch of the hand of Peter. They may have been thinking: Oh, the day is almost gone and we have not been able to reach him! I must see my son healed. Others might have been thinking: I must see my mother, or my father, or sister, or daughter healed. These people believed that if Peter’s shadow might fall across them they would be healed. So they took their sick ones into the streets and laid them on beds and couches that the shadow of Peter passing by might fall upon them. The Lord knew this, and led Peter to go that way, and in verse 16 we read, “They were healed every one.”
God’s Love and Mercy
How wonderful is the love of Jesus to everyone! When we take one step toward Jesus, He moves toward us. The people brought their sick ones into the streets, and Peter walked along the very streets where the sick people were lying, and the people were healed through the power of God.
When the Jewish rulers saw how the Gospel of Jesus was spreading, they became very angry. Perhaps they said, “We must do something quickly to get rid of these preachers.” So they took the Apostles and put them in prison. They no doubt hoped the people would soon forget about the teachings of Jesus and the miracles they had seen.
Night came on, and the people slept. But an angel of the Lord was watching these men of God who were locked in the prison. During the night the angel opened the prison doors and told the Apostles to go to the Temple and talk to the people about Jesus as they had done before. So early in the morning they went to the Temple and taught the people as Jesus Himself had taught them.
The high priest and his helpers met and sent officers to the prison to bring the Apostles before them. But the officers returned from the prison and told the high priest, “The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.” How surprised the officers must have been to learn that the Apostles were standing in the Temple teaching the people about Jesus as bravely as before!
The rulers were afraid to treat the Apostles roughly, for the people who stood listening were friendly to them. So they had Peter and the other Apostles brought to the high priest. The high priest asked them if they had not been told not to teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter, who was a true man of God, and his friends answered, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” The Lord had told Peter what to do. The high priest had also told him to do something else, but Peter loved the Lord and wanted to obey Him rather than the words of man.
The Lord had work for Peter, and that work was to teach the people to repent and be saved from their sins, and live for Jesus. Peter did the work the Lord had laid out for him to do, and the Lord took good care of Peter. When God has work for us to do, let us obey His voice and do it at once.
Iron Gates Opened
At another time a wicked king, Herod, cast Peter into prison. On the night before Peter was to be brought before the people, perhaps for trial the Christians gathered in a house and had a prayer meeting. No doubt they had heard about the time the angel opened the prison and let Peter out. They knew that Jesus was able to help Peter out of the prison once more. All night long they prayed and waited.
As Peter lay sleeping between two soldiers, bound to each of them by chains, suddenly a light shone in the prison. An angel of the Lord awoke him and said, “Arise up quickly.” As he arose, the chains fell from his hands. The angel told Peter to put on his clothes and his sandals and said, “Follow me.” The angel led the way past all the guards, and to the iron gate. But even iron gates cannot hold God’s people when the Lord sends His angel to open them. The iron gate swung open for Peter and the angel! Up through the street walked Peter with the angel. Then, as the angel disappeared, Peter realized that he had been brought out of prison. It was so wonderful that he had thought it was a vision. But he now understood what had really happened: he was a free man! He had no chains on his hands!
Peter hurried to the home of Mary. That is where the prayer meeting was being held – the Christians were praying for Peter. Here was the answer to their prayers!
Did you ever pray for something, and before you finished praying you had the answer to your prayers? It seems almost too good to be true when the Lord answers prayers so quickly. But that is the way Jesus works sometimes for those who have faith in Him. We read in [Isaiah:65:24]: “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
When Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a little girl named Rhoda came out. She was so happy when she heard Peter’s voice that she did not stop to let him in, but ran to tell the others that Peter was at the gate. The people in the house told her it could not be Peter, for Peter was in prison! Here they had been praying -– no doubt for Peter’s deliverance – and when Jesus answered their prayers, they could hardly believe it had really happened.
Peter continued to knock. When they opened the door they saw it was really Peter, for whom they had been so earnestly praying. They must have been very happy and excited to see Peter stand before them again. He told them how the angel of the Lord delivered him.
God punished the wicked king who had put Peter in prison, and who, no doubt, had planned to kill him. Peter lived many years and worked for Jesus.
God’s Care over Us
God has given His angels charge over us to keep us in all our ways [Psalms:91:11]). His angels take good care of us, even though we cannot see them. Should we not love Jesus for the care He gives us? Should we not work for Him? We should do everything we can to show Jesus we love Him and that we are thankful for the things He does for us, and for His watchful care over us. He knows when we love Him. He knows when we have a purpose in our hearts to do good to everyone, as Peter and the Apostles did.
1. How many times was Peter delivered from prison by an angel? [Acts:5:19]; [Acts:12:7].
2. Whom did Peter say we ought to obey? [Acts:5:29].
3. How did the angel awaken Peter? [Acts:12:7].
4. Where was a prayer meeting being held? [Acts:12:12].
5. What little girl answered the door when Peter knocked? [Acts:12:13].