Lent 2023 Day 29: Mon 27 Mar
(Peter has been led out of prison by an angel) Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.’
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 named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognised 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 other brothers and sisters about this,’ he said, and then he left for another place.
In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter.
Herod had decided to persecute the church (this is the name by which each group of believers was known). He’d put James to death and was now intent on dealing with Peter. Peter was arrested and kept in prison for a trial that would take place after the Passover festival. We looked at the story of the angel who sprang him from the prison in our Advent reflections.
There were people praying at the house Peter came to. I don’t doubt that they were praying for Peter and asking God to keep him safe. They clearly did not expect God to bring Peter safely to the door of the house! When the servant Rhoda told them it was Peter at the door their unbelief caused them to think up fantasy scenarios – what nonsense they thought up that the person at the door was Peter’s angel. Why could they not believe her?! Why would an angel present itself as Peter?! Had they assumed that Peter was now dead? Perhaps if she’d had the presence of mind to let Peter in things would have been a little clearer for all concerned.
Were I the writer of Acts I might be keen to erase aspects of the story, especially where the disciples were acting like twits. Luke tells it as it is, which is good. We do not want a censored Bible. As to the magnificent understatement at the end of this passage – thank Luke for that!
Why did Herod not re-arrest Peter?
Is the Church of England a church?
What have you lost heart in praying for?
Father God, the disciples were quite ordinary people living in extraordinary times. Reveal to me the wonders of your work in our world that I may believe that the present is always extraordinary, for you are extraordinary. Amen.
Have you ever created a scenario to explain away a miraculous event?
Should “ordinary time” in the Common Worship Calendar (this year, mid-January to late February and late May to early August) be abolished, or at least be re-named?