Summary: The eighth sermon in a Fall 2005 series through Acts
(To the reader: I created the following dramatic reading for this sermon. I recorded it onto a CD and then played it during the worship service. I portrayed Peter writing his account of the event to Timothy several years after it occurred as the CD played.)
My Dear Timothy,
I am sorry to hear of your mother’s death. She was a woman of God and a person whose faith has influenced many in the faith.
In his note to me about her death, Paul told me of how she was a source of strength to him and Silas for many years and that they will miss her letters that so deeply encouraged them. (Pause to dip pen in ink)
In your last note, you asked about several believers here and how they are doing. They are doing well in spite of the fact that they are all jailed at the present for telling the good news.
Tyara is doing especially well in spite of her physical pain from the beatings that she has received over the years for her witness. Though her leg is badly damaged, and probably damaged for life, she is still able to give aid to the other prisoners who are in far worse shape that she is. (Start of Track 2) I have seen the effects first hand when I have visited her and the others. The prisoners are moved to tears, and so are some of the guards. Her care has made it possible to share the Gospel with many. She is chained up but not chained in!
You have asked me from time to time to tell about my experience at Jerusalem when Herod Agrippa had me arrested and imprisoned. I have somewhat resisted telling you the story for reasons that are not clear to me but now feel that I need to tell you. (Pause, and count to 10)
Timothy, (short pause) I thought that I was going to see the Lord! I thought that it was time for me to pay the price for my commitment to Jesus, a commitment that I all too well remember I wasn’t going to pay at one point.
Yet, it was not to be… I am still here (Start of Track 3) and I still face death, as Paul has so eloquently stated from time to time, death for the sake of the Kingdom and the Gospel of our Lord and Savior.
(Pause) It was a smelly place. Not just the smell of the living that exist in close quarters, but also the smell of the dying and the dead. It is a smell that you do not forget.
The treatment was rough. The shackles and irons were painful. My right shoulder still suffers from the twisting that the guards gave me when they put me in the shackles that were attached to them.
To have little or no voluntary movement while attached to armed guards and to be subject to the sudden moves by two other men who forget they are attached to you, is quite discomforting. Of course some of the guards were more kind to you than others as they did not want the assignment of being attached to a ‘high value prisoner’ (Start of track 4) that if lost, meant their death if the prisoner was not re-taken.
But some did not care and were not going to take chances and so kept the chain very short and would jerk you around just to remind you who was in charge. (Pause for ink refill). I remember one small man, who was near death, being violently manipulated by a couple of the guards that were not well like by the rest of staff. I thought that at one point he was going to have his neck snapped in two.
During my stay, once or twice a day (depending the guards’ moods) we would be unshackled and allowed some exercise in a small courtyard. The daylight was at first not welcome because the intensity of it was painful.
But it allowed us to feel alive again and we began to welcome the chance to get outside. (Start of track 5) It was there that I realized one day how many were praying for me and my release as we were allowed to see a few visitors and mine told me that there was serious prayer for my release being done in numerous prayer gatherings around the city.
(Pause for ink refill). On the third day, I began to fear the worst and prepared myself, as best as I could, through earnest prayer, for my certain departure from this world and into the presence of the Savior. My fear was confirmed that afternoon when I was told that I would appear before Herod the next morning for trial, and, I thought, “certain execution.”