After Peter had been chained to guards in prison before his scheduled trial, an angel appeared and miraculously led him away from captivity (see Acts 12:1-10). During his escape, Peter didn’t know if he really was being freed or if he was seeing a vision; but after being led away, he realized the events were indeed real. This is what Luke, the writer of Acts, meant when he wrote, “And when Peter had come to himself….” The apostle told himself, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people” (v. 11), meaning the sinister plans of the Jews that involved his demise.
- The word know represents a Greek word meaning “to see, understand, or perceive.”
- The phrase for certain represents a Greek word meaning “surely, most certainly, truly.”
Haven’t you also had an experience similar to Peter’s? Your miracle might not have been as dramatic or jaw-dropping, but it nevertheless was significant, especially to you. God answered a prayer for you in a way that you didn’t expect, or He guided you through a situation in which you weren’t fully sure what He was doing until you emerged on the other side.
On one occasion a good number of years ago, I was flying back to graduate school after having spent some time with my family during a holiday. After arriving at the airport, I learned that because of a mechanical failure, I and a number of other passengers were being placed on a flight with another airline. As I waited at the gate, I met a young man who, like me, was flying back to school. We wound up sitting next to each other on the first leg of each of our trips—the flight to which I had been moved. During the course of that flight I had an opportunity to talk with my new friend about spiritual things, and I shared with him how he could know Christ as his Savior. There, on a plane I never had intended to board, sitting next to me, my new friend invited Christ into his life!
Here’s something you ought to know. You are mistaken if you think I had no difficulty sharing my faith in this instance. When it comes to witnessing, I often struggle to avoid awkward moments and to communicate the gospel effectively. Even so, I am humbled that God was able to use me, and I marvel that He placed me next to a guy ready to hear the gospel by using, of all things, a mechanical failure!
Back to Peter. As he walked through the city, the apostle was thinking about all that had happened. He came to the house where Mary, the mother of John Mark, lived. There a prayer meeting was taking place (see v. 12). Peter knocked, “and a girl named Rhoda came to answer” (v. 13). She must have heard Peter preach, or she might even have known him on a personal basis. Either way, she “recognized Peter’s voice” (v. 14). Imagine what she was thinking. Expressed in 21st century American English, Rhoda said to herself, Wow! It’s Peter! He’s supposed to be in prison, but he must be outside! This is totally awesome! God has performed a miracle!
Verse 14 tells us that “because of her gladness she did not open the gate.” Can you relate? In her excitement, Rhoda failed to open the door! She instead “ran in and announced that Peter stood” outside.
Rhoda’s fellow believers told her, “You are beside yourself.” Beside yourself translates a Greek word meaning “mad, or crazy.” It appears in four other places in the New Testament. In the New King James Version, it is translated as
- beside yourself in Acts 26:24,
- mad in John 10:20 and Acts 26:25, and
- out of your mind in 1 Corinthians 14:23.
Ironically, the very people who had been praying for Peter responded with disbelief when their prayers were miraculously answered. Rhoda, however, “kept insisting that it was so” (v. 15). Good for her!
Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved
Unless otherwise marked, Scripture quotations have been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.