Today's Lectionary Text
Then the high priest took action; he and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said, “Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.” When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching.
When the high priest and those with him arrived, they called together the council and the whole body of the elders of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the temple police went there, they did not find them in the prison; so they returned and reported, “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were perplexed about them, wondering what might be going on. Then someone arrived and announced, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” Then the captain went with the temple police and brought them, but without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
Peter and the other apostles were arrested for spreading the good news that Jesus was resurrected and that He was the one true Son of God, the way to forgiveness and salvation. The scripture tells us that the Lord opened the doors and brought them out from their captivity. Yet later, when their accusers arrived, they found the doors locked and the guards still in place. The apostles instead were found in the temple preaching the Gospel.
This story contrasts with the story of Paul and Silas, also under arrest for preaching The Way. But this time, an earthquake opened the doors and released the prisoners from their shackles, yet no one left their cells. (Acts 16:25-31) When the guard went in to check, preparing to take his own life for letting the prisoners escape, all were present and accounted for. That jailer and his entire family believed and were baptized.
In both cases, the apostles were imprisoned. In both cases, God freed them. In both cases, God arranged a way for the apostles to spread the Good News, but in different ways. Every Christian can relate to these stories, because every Christian has been released from some personal imprisonment. For some it is a dramatic release from addiction or illness. For others it is the release from despair or depression. For every Christion, there is release from the slavery to sin and death. However, the new freedom presents itself, it will be followed by opportunity to proclaim the good news of salvation.
We will not all be given the exact same circumstances to lead others to Christ. But whether in a house of worship or in a prison, in a Bible study or at a coffee shop, at work or at play, God will give every Christian the opportunity to bring others the knowledge of the love of God. The power of the Holy Spirit works through believers in different ways at times chosen by God. Sometimes the Holy Spirit works quietly like the whisper of a still small voice. Sometimes the Holy Spirit has the deafening power of an earthquake. Either way, God is at work in the lives of Christians and through them in the world. Watch for your opportunity to share the Gospel of love.
-Rev. Dorothy Smith
Table Rock and Humboldt, NE UMC's
Prayer for Reflection
Almighty, ever-powerful God guide me to whomever and where ever you choose. Use my actions and my words to share the hope of forgiveness and of salvation. Amen
This Week's Lectionary
This Week's Liturgical Color