Bible Reading Day 186
Day 186: July 5 (Acts 12)
We have seen so much supernatural power in the early years of the Church, and the gospel of Jesus is spreading widely, yet there is great persecution too. Human power and authority cannot tolerate the power of God, and persecution for the believers is a result of that clash.
Here King Herod Agrippa is the threatened authority; he has the apostle James executed and sees how much this pleases the Jewish people. Civil authority and religion working together to persecute the Church. Herod then thinks that doing the same to Peter (the main leader of the church in Jerusalem) will be even more popular. But God has other ideas. While Peter is in prison overnight, God sends an angel to get him out. Notice how strongly Herod has Peter guarded, but the greatest strength of human effort is no match for God’s power! Peter walks out and goes to the home of Mary (described here as the mother of John Mark – the gospel writer and close associate of Peter) where the church is holding a prayer meeting.
Yet again we have a humorous record of human fallibility that points to the authenticity of Luke’s account: Rhoda the servant girl tells the prayer meeting that Peter is outside, but they tell her she’s mad and that it must be his angel. But they don’t let him in until he continues knocking!
The escape of Peter proved costly for the guards, who were sentenced to death for allowing him to escape. And Herod went off to his palace in Caesarea in a sulk. A little later this self-absorbed and self-promoting leader met his own justice, as God allowed him to be struck down by a disease because he was accepting worship rather than giving glory to God. Remember there was a famine (prophesied by Agabus in yesterday’s reading) and the people of Tyre and Sidon were trying to ingratiate themselves with Herod so they could get food from him. But Herod responded wrongly to their worship and met his downfall. In the end, even the most corrupt powers will be thrown down, and God’s rule will prevail.
And a footnote in the last verse of the chapter tells us that Barnabas and Saul finished their mission to Jerusalem (bringing the offering from Antioch to help during the famine) and they returned taking John Mark with them.
God has a plan for each of our lives, and often that involves linking us up with others to learn, serve, and grow. Who is taking you along with them as they follow Jesus? And how can you learn from them, serve them, and grow as a result?
Have a great day!