Summary: This Message looks at the Joy possible when Paul and Silas were in Prison.
It wasn’t the end to a perfect day. Paul, Luke and a colleague by the name of Silas have been travelling throughout the Roman Empire starting new churches and introducing people to Christ. They started in Jerusalem and they’ve been through through Antioch, Pamphylia,, Syria, Cilica, Derbe, Lystra, and Galatia and have finally ended up in the town of Philippi. One day as they were on their way to the synagogue a demon possessed girl started to follow them shouting at the top of her voice, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” Well at first the guys tried to ignore her, I mean really there are probably better people to have announcing your ministry then a demon possessed person. As a matter of fact you might recall in the gospels on a couple of different occasions people who were demon possessed starting proclaiming that Jesus was the messiah and he commanded them to stop. Well she continued to follow them and continued announcing them where ever they went, after a couple of days of hoping the girl would go away of her own accord Paul decides to take things into his own hands and he turns around and commands the demons to release the girl, which they do. I don’t know why he waited so long, but if I ever find out I’ll let you know, OK?
Now the story should have ended there, the girl was no longer demon possessed, the guys were no longer being bugged by a demon possessed girl, definitely a win, win situation. But no, that wasn’t the case. You see the demon possessed girl just happened to be a slave, which wasn’t all that unusual, but what made her stand out amongst other demon possessed slave girls is that she was owned by several men who would hire her out to tell peoples fortunes, kind of the original psychic network. So when the demon was cast out she no longer told fortunes which made her worthless to her masters. You would have thought she’d have seen that coming. Well they weren’t all that impressed with their financial reversals and so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities.
They couldn’t very well tell the authorities what had really happened and why they were really upset, people are supposed to be happy when a demon is cast out of someone and so rather then appear shallow and cruel they used a different tact. They started by making an accusation that was sure to stir the hearts of those in charge, “These Jews.” Kind of gives you pause to wonder when you realize the early church had to put up with anti Semitic racism, as a matter of fact normally it was the Jews who were complaining that the Christians were perverting the faith, why the change? Well if we pull a map up here we discover that the town of Phillipi was located here in modern day Greece. This was the first foray of the church out of Asia and into Europe and these early Christians were identified as Jews. Which was pretty close to the truth.
So after establishing that these guys weren’t like everyone else they laid the charge, it was very specific, well thought through and carefully laid down, they said “these guys are teaching people to do things different then they we’ve always done them.” That’s a pretty serious charge. After all it was Robert Kriegel who said “The only people who like change are busy cashiers and babies with wet diapers.”
It’s amazing to see how quickly things start to happen. The magistrates order Paul and Silas stripped and beaten and then has them thrown in jail. And you thought you have had rough days. Being the dangerous felons that they were the magistrates also order the jailer to make sure they didn’t escape. And so they were taken into the inner dungeon, had their feet clamped in stocks and were left in the cold, damp, dark cell.
So what are you going to do? You’ve been wrongly accused, you’ve been slandered, you’ve been flogged; and now you’re locked up with the very dregs of society. Well there is only one thing to do: sing! Well that may not be what you would do, but it is what Paul and Silas did. It’s midnight in the prison, they are sore from being beat, they are cold and wet from their cell and they are praying and singing. Now if I was one of the other prisoners I think I’d be a little annoyed, we don’t know what they were feeling but the bible says the other prisoners were listening. Like they had much choice they were in jail.