Summary: James is killed; Peter is set free.
A Tale of Two Apostles
Acts 12:1 – 12:19
Jeff Hughes – August 17, 2003
Calvary Chapel Aggieland
a. Have you ever been in a situation that you though was completely hopeless, just to have something happen to turn things around? God has a unique way of bringing hope to hopeless situations.
b. Peter would later write in 1st Peter chapter 1, verse 13. He says rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
c. As I read this passage this week, I got some insight into Peter’s hope, and I trust you will too.
d. Last week, we saw Saul and Barnabas leave their growing church at Antioch to deliver some much needed aid to the church at Jerusalem. We aren’t told how this gift is received, or the events of Barnabas and Saul returning to Jerusalem from the mission field.
e. We are told of the trials and tribulation that the church is going through at Jerusalem about this time. God delivers one man from danger, but another isn’t.
f. How does God make the choice? Why does God make the choice? Was one man more valuable than the other? Did God love the man He delivers more? These are some of the questions that had to have gone through the minds of the church at Jerusalem at the time.
g. One thing is certain. We may never know why God chooses to do one thing and not another. We do know that He is sovereign, He is still on the throne, and He is completely aware of what was going on, and He was completely aware of what was going to happen. Nothing in our passage today took God by surprise.
h. Sometimes we have to trust Him, despite the circumstances. We will look at a man today who does just that. But before we dive into our teaching, let’s go before the Lord and ask His blessing this morning.
a. The story is told of a former world chess champion player who was taken by a friend to see a picture which had been hung in a famous art gallery, and which had attracted much interest. The artist had portrayed a young man sitting despairingly at a chessboard, while opposite him sat Satan with a look of malicious triumph on his face. The title of the picture was a single expressive word: "Checkmated". For a long time the champion player stood before the picture, his brow furrowed by concentration. Suddenly his voice rang out in the art gallery: "Bring me a chessboard. I can save him yet!" Sure enough, the mastermind had discovered the way out. And just as surely Christ can give victory to the person who will trust him implicitly. Naturally speaking, there may not seem to be a way out, but never limit God for he’s the supply of our comfort.
b. Like the young man in the painting playing a losing game of chess to Satan, the apostle Peter looks like he is playing a losing battle to the enemy. He doesn’t come directly at Peter, though.
c. As we will see today, the players in this game are other men. Granted, they are politically powerful men. There is also no doubt that they were under the influence of the enemy, as He reached out to take a swipe at the early church.
d. But, God had a way out for Peter. It was a way out that was so miraculous, that even the very people that were making intercession for Peter didn’t believe it.
e. But, I can’t tell the story as good as God’s Word can. So, without any further ado, let’s dive right in. Our study comes from Acts, chapter 12 verses 1 through 19, as we continue our study this morning. Let’s read along starting in chapter 12 –
i. 1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. 2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. 4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
ii. 5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. 6 And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. 7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, "Arise quickly!" And his chains fell off his hands. 8 Then the angel said to him, "Gird yourself and tie on your sandals"; and so he did. And he said to him, "Put on your garment and follow me." 9 So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. 11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, "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." 12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, "You are beside yourself!" Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, "It is his angel." 16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, "Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren." And he departed and went to another place. 18 Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. 19 But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.