Word came back to the disciples that James had been killed and Peter was arrested. With a political system in flux and a need to find favor with the Jewish constituents, Peter’s life hung in the balance. The Christians began to pray. I wonder what it is they prayed for. I think if I were in their shoes I would pray for a speedy trial with an innocent verdict because that is the way the legal system works. The good news is, God thinks bigger than we do because he is able to do more than we are. God answered their prayers but not through the power structures and systems of political or judicial policy. God is not concerned with “the way things are supposed to work.” He simply let Peter go. He walked. By the power of God and the presence of an angel the chains fell off his hands and feet, the soldiers continued to sleep, the bars slid back and the doors opened and Peter walked right out of a Roman prison.
Across town the Christians were still praying for Peter. They had no idea that God had already answered their prayers. In the middle of it all came a knock at the door – their prayers for Peter’s freedom had been interrupted by Peter himself! God certainly has a sense of humor but even more than that he has a power and authority that supersedes anything this world can muster. Notice Peter’s response to God’s deliverance in Acts 12:17. He tells the story and he asks that others hear it as well.
This may be a stretch but I think this has some parallels to God’s dealings in our lives and how we are to respond. While not all of us will find ourselves in prison we can and do become ensnared by the things of this world. Only through Christ do we find freedom. Only through Christ are the doors opened wide. Many of us have gotten so used to being shackled by sin that we don’t even realize that the door to our prison has been left open. But once we realize we can be free and we step through that door there is a response that should come to us just as it did to Peter. We will want to tell someone of what God has done in our lives. We will want to speak of the horrors of the prison and the glory of freedom. We will want to find those who are still enslaved and tell them about the freedom in Christ. When God delivers you, you can’t help but tell someone because you are grateful. What is more, many of the prisons we find ourselves in are self-imposed. But God has enough grace to release us time and time again from prisons we have put ourselves in over and over again. God is good.
So the question is, “What prisons have you found yourself in?” Maybe you are even currently trapped by something and need reminding that Christ is standing there with the key in his hand and he has already unlocked the door. All you have to do is step up and step out into his loving arms and celebrate his deliverance.