Summary: This sermon demonstratest the power of prayer, showing how God can and will do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine if we just PRAY!
July 7, 2002
A. [Traveling On Your Knees]
Last night I took a journey
to a land across the seas.
I didn’t go by ship or plane
I traveled on my knees.
I saw so many people there
In bondage to their sin,
And Jesus told me I should go,
That there were souls to win.
But I said, "Jesus, I can’t go
To lands across the seas."
He answered quickly, "Yes, you can
By traveling on your knees."
He said, "You pray, I’ll meet the need.
You call, and I will hear.
It’s up to you to be concerned
For lost souls far and near."
And so I did; knelt in prayer,
Gave up some hours of ease,
And with the Savior by my side,
I traveled on my knees.
As I prayed on, I saw souls saved
And twisted persons healed,
I saw God’s workers’ strength renewed
While laboring in the field.
I said, "Yes Lord, I’ll take the job.
Your heart I want to please.
I’ll heed your call and swiftly go
By traveling on my knees."
B. Today we come to a powerful story at the end of Acts 12, where first we see…
I. The death of James
Acts 12:1-2, It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.
A. There’s not a whole lot of space devoted to this story, but I’m sure that this was a great loss to the early church.
1. There’s really only one verse here, but I’m sure that the death of one of the original apostles was a great tragedy to the early church.
2. James and John were the brothers that Jesus had affectionately called, "The Sons of Thunder."
3. I’m sure that all of the apostles were in mourning—especially James’ brother, John.
B. The larger story is that persecution has broken out again.
1. There had been a time of persecution back in chapters eight and nine that was headed up by Saul.
2. However, Saul got saved in Acts nine and Acts 9:31 tells us that the church then enjoyed a time of peace.
3. But now persecution is back and it is being lead by King Herod.
4. This Herod is Agrippa the 1, the grandson of King Herod the Great who had John-the-Baptist beheaded.
5. This is now 44 AD; or 11 years after the crucifixion of Christ.
6. The persecution of the church in connection with the death of Stephen was about seven years prior to this.
7. The church had that time of persecution, then a time of peace, and now persecution is back.
8. Now Herod Agrippa had James put to death with the sword.
C. Now the thing that makes this more heinous is that verse three says that Herod saw that putting James to death pleased the Jews and so he was going after Peter next.
1. James’ death was a public relations coo for King Herod.
2. So, I’m sure that even though there is not much space given to this, James’ death was a big blow to the early church.
3. But it gets worse…
II. The arrest of Peter
Acts 12:3-4, When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
A. Seeing that murdering James made the Jews happy, Herod arrested Peter.
1. They arrested Peter during a Jewish holiday.
2. The Jews are out there celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Herod arrests Peter to try to when more PR points with the Jews.
B. After arresting Peter, Herod had him thrown into prison.
1. Peter is in prison and his cell is being guarded.
2. He’s being guarded by four squads four soldiers each; that’s sixteen soldiers guarding Peter.
3. We will see that there are two guards actually chained to Peter and two guards in two different positions outside the cell.
4. So there was one of the four squads with Peter at all times.
5. Each squad probably had a six hour shift.
C. Now the question may come to mind as to why such security measures for Peter.
1. Surely Peter wasn’t that much of a threat to society or King Herod.
2. Well, in Herod’s mind there could have been such a threat, when we stop to think about the history of Peter’s criminal record.
a. This is Peter’s third arrest.
b. The first time in Acts 4, Peter was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin.