Acts 12: 1-18 Peter’s escape from prison. It seems that I missed a very important New Testament Passover. Herod was trying to please the Jews and decided to kill the Apostles. This took place during the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Passover).
Imagine Peter seating in jail waiting to be killed. All of the thoughts that must have been going through his mind: The Last Supper, the Garden, the rooster, and the morning on the Lake when Jesus questioned his love three times. No wonder he thought the angel was just a dream!
This story brings in John Mark (writer of the Gospel and Peter’s nephew) as a witness to many things in story of the New Church. It does not say that Mark left with Peter just that Peter very wisely got out of town. The James (Book of James) in verse 17 is Jesus’ brother who must have already been very important in leading the new church.
Rhoda and those praying are frequently the stars of this story for all the wrong reasons. The group was praying (supposedly for Peter), Jesus released him and they could not believe the miracle had happened as they had prayed for.
There is no time stamp to tell us how many years since Pentecost this story took place. So, if I was doing a movie of this I would put the sixteen soldiers who were executed because of the disappearance as the ones who beat Jesus and gambled for His clothes and arrested the Apostles the first time.
Sometimes when you are studying one thing something else catches your attention, this is one of those things – John 7. It is not part of the Passover to Pentecost time period but comes several months after Shavuot or Pentecost. All of the crops are in, and this is an important event for the Jews that commemorates the forty years of the Exodus. It is one of three Feasts that everyone was to go to Jerusalem and celebrate.
Part of the reason John would put this in his Book (v. 1 – 5) is to show the change in Jesus’ earthly family after the Resurrection, they were in the Upper Room praying with the rest of the disciples instead of doubting. You need to remember that Jesus would still have a victory ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, so His time was not ready. Jesus was not going to be pushed into doing things out of the timing of the Father.
In verse fourteen, of chapter 7, “halfway” into the Feast would have been the fourth day and was between two sacred assemblies. There were specific offerings for each day see (Numbers 29: 12 – 40). John 7: 37 places the rest of the chapter on the last day, but all of the way to chapter 10: 21 seems to be in this general time period. If John 8:1 is correct it may have occurred the next day after the Feast.
John 10: 21 – 42 is the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah which is in December, so there is a time gap. But one thing that stands out in these three chapters is the number of times they were going to apprehend Jesus or stone Him, remember “His time had not yet come.” Much of this rage is because of miracles, challenging their practices, and claiming to be the Son of God, the Messiah. THE important thing that Jesus stated in most of these conversations and is very important for us today is who gets the glory and the credit for the miracles. Jesus gave the glory to the Father!
I realize that Jesus is His name, and that Christ is a title; so, there are times when one should be used over the other. It just seems that too many preachers forget to use the name Jesus. Paul in his writings will use the terms Jesus Christ and Christ Jesus; there is a subtle difference here that our society seems to forget. Jesus Christ is “man-God” while Christ Jesus is “God-man.” (Sorry, I forget where I first read this; it may have been in Vine’s Dictionary.) If someone is not/cannot use the name Jesus, properly, I suggest you RUN. It is amazing how many people use the name of Jesus as a point of authority when cursing but do not believe in Him.
Over the years Acts 2 => 9 has been the picture of the early church and has been combed through very carefully for “how it should be done”. I have always thought that Stephen was stoned and the Apostles beaten because the Devil hated the Church. I have taught and heard sermons on “having everything in common”. I have also heard sermons on how those practices border on Communism, and God was just stopping the problem from growing. It is truly amazing how we can turn a coin and see true stuff on both sides!
I will not argue either of those points but add this thought into the mix. First, we need to
look at Acts 1:8 where Jesus reminded the disciples to witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the rest of the world. Now, we look at Acts 8:1 when the persecution started and the disciples were scattered from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria. I am thinking that Jesus had to “turn things around” and get the disciples to go out and start witnessing. I have a feeling that the Church had gotten too comfortable with how everything was working and was not thinking about “going out”.
They had resources, Leaders, a power base to work from (Jerusalem), and the example Jesus had given them when they were with Him (they had a common purse). (See the topics in Week 4.) I think the Beta Program had and was working in Acts 5 and 6 but everyone was comfy and did not want to leave Jerusalem.
Jesus used what the Devil meant for harm to move the Church into spreading the Gospel.