Summary: Let's trust God for a miracle!
Are You Expecting A Miracle?
Text: Acts 12:1-19
1. Illustration: Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation. — Andrew Murray
2. Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
3. If faith is the confidence that what we hope for is actually going to happen, then why are we surprised when it does?
4. If we truly believe that what Jesus said is true, "yes ask me for anything in my name and I will do it," then why are we dumbfounded when he gives us what we ask for?
5. The answer to both of those questions is because we are human, and God does things that are beyond the limits of human imagination.
6. The story of Peter's miraculous escape from jail illustrates that...
A. Disappointments Make It Hard To Believe
B. God Still Answers Our Prayers
C. Are We Going To Expect A Miracle?
7. Let's stand together as we read Acts 12:1-19.
Proposition: Let's trust God for a miracle!
Transition: The hardest thing about expecting a miracle is...
I. Disappointments Make It Hard To Believe (1-5).
A. Killed With A Sword
1. In spite of all the persecution heaped upon the Church so far in Acts, they had experienced miracle after miracle. In fact, we can easily see that they had come to expect it.
2. At this point they probably thought that the persecution had come to an end.
A. However, this was not the case, and it probably never will be until Jesus comes back.
B. Like one of my mentors once told me, "There will always be demons to slay!
3. This was the case in the early church. Just when they thought the persecution was over, Luke tells us, "About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword."
A. Because Herod Agrippa I was educated in Rome and became a friend of the Roman emperors, Gaius (Caligula) made him king of part of Syria in A.D. 37.
B. Then, two years later, after exiling Herod Antipas, who killed John the Baptist, Gaius added Galilee and Perea to Agrippa's rule.
C. In A.D. 41 the emperor Claudius gave Agrippa Judea and Samaria, uniting practically the whole territory, once ruled by Herod the Great, under him.
D. When Herod Agrippa I became king over Judea and Jerusalem he did everything he could to gain and hold the favor of the Jews.
E. Apparently, he also saw and heard enough from the Jewish leaders to know of their fears and frustrations with respect to the apostles and the Church.
F. He undoubtedly heard how the Sanhedrin had threatened the apostles, who simply continued to preach about Jesus.
G. Somewhere in the early part of his reign over Jerusalem, then, he decided to take steps to show he was a king who could do more than threaten. So he arrested some from the Church "intending to persecute them."
H. Among them was the apostle James, brother of John (together, the sons of Zebedee). With Peter, James and John constituted the inner circle of Jesus' disciples while He ministered on earth.
I. Luke does not give any details, but there does not seem to have been a trial. James was given no opportunity even to witness to his faith.
J. Herod simply had him "put to death with the sword." To the Jews this would mean Herod considered James no longer a true Jew but an apostate (Horton, Acts: A Logion Press Commentary, 220-221).
4. Now Herod was like many of us. You know if a little Nyquil makes feel good, then a lot of it will makes us feel fantastic! So "When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration.) 4 Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover."
A. The execution of James "pleased" the Jewish leaders and their friends. They had not forgotten how the apostles defied them.
B. Moreover, since most of these leaders were Sadducees, they did not like the teachings of the Christians; they wanted them stopped. They were probably aware also of the spread of the gospel among the Gentiles.
C. When Herod saw how pleased they were, "he proceeded to seize Peter," the most outspoken of the apostles, intending "to bring him out for public trial after the Passover."
D. Why Herod decided to wait until "after the Passover" season before bringing Peter out to the people we are not told.
E. Perhaps Herod wanted to show them how strict he was in keeping the Passover. Or, he may have wanted to wait until most of the crowd went home to prevent there be a riot he could not control.