Read: Acts 12:1-24
In this passage we are provided with two extreme examples: one is tragic and the other is triumphal. James is executed while Peter is saved. The miraculous events surrounding Peter’s release from prison give us hope. And while the death of Herod might be cause for celebration, we are not invited to gloat. There are so many lessons in this text! The one that weighs on my heart this morning is that we need to be a people of great faith, trusting that God’s answer to our prayers is sufficient, whether or not it’s what we desire.
Every time I read these words, tears begin to well up. I’ve come to know these men so well as I’ve studied this year that I have a real sense of loss. Among the first called by Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22), James, the Zebedee brother, paid the ultimate price for his faith. So sad.
Lord, my faith is like a grain of sand compared to these incredible saints. Though I may never be as strong or as bold as the founders of our faith, strengthen me in these days to be the catalyst You desire for this day. May Your church grow as a result and many people come to know You fully through simple acts of faith.
Power of Prayer
Our Sovereign God hears the prayers of His people, though the answers are not always what we desire, I am convinced He answers every prayer.
Perhaps the execution of James led to the deep prayer surrounding Peter’s abduction. There are many examples where God is moved by the earnest prayers of His people. Prayer matters.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
Or perhaps it wasn’t time for Peter’s death, the work before him was not yet accomplished. One day, perhaps, we’ll understand. For now, we can merely observe what happened and come to appreciate God’s sovereignty over all things.
Tell James and the Brothers and Sisters
Before Peter goes underground to avoid certain execution and retribution against his friends, he tells them to spread the news:
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 other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place. Acts 12:17
It’s as if Peter was telling them to remember this deliverance during the Passover festival, a new day is dawning. This is evidence for them to consider. James in the quote above must be Jesus’ brother, his ministry was significant, but we remember it wasn’t always that way. Tell James and the others, yes, including the women, but it’s important to keep this quiet until uproar settles down.
Herod interrogated the guards, but they had no explanation that made any sense so he had them executed. Perhaps it was his frustration in losing Peter that led to his departure, or maybe it was time to simply conduct business elsewhere. Whatever the case, Luke describes an important meeting in two significant cities where Herod is pictured as the hero in silver robes. He accepts their praise as a god and was suddenly infected with worms. The commentaries indicate he died after five days of being eaten from the inside out. This Herod will no longer suppress the growing body of Christians.
But the word of God continued to spread and flourish. Acts 12:24
May we have faith beyond explanation, go where God is leading, boldly proclaim that which we know is true, even though the world does not understand.
“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
Even if the answer to prayer means my death, I will not turn from Jesus.