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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

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The Christian church faced its worst crisis since Jesus’ crucifixion. King Herod had executed the first apostle, James, and jailed Peter with the intent to kill him next. But this is not the same Peter who once denied Jesus. Shortly before Peter’s execution, he is found in prison “sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers” (verse 6).

Sleeping was nothing new to Peter. The old Peter also slept at all the wrong times. He slept when Jesus took him up the mountain to pray, waking only when the transfigured Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:32). He twice fell asleep when Jesus asked him to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-43). Interestingly, Peter didn’t like it when Jesus slept on the boat caught in the storm. He frantically shook Jesus awake, crying, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38).

Now the new Peter was on the verge of perishing, and he didn’t cry for help. Instead he slept like Jesus on the boat. Perhaps he thought it was his last night. He had heard Jesus predict that he would die (John 21:18, 19). He also had seen his close friend James die. Peter’s faith must have been enormous to allow him to sleep. But Peter’s time had not yet come, and an angel led him out of prison. Herod exploded in anger and, having lost an apostle to execute, he put the prison guards to death. Peter’s prison guards died because of wicked Herod. Peter was set free by an angel, the guards were killed.  This offers a lesson to us. Just as people are blessed by associating with the righteous, people suffer by associating with the wicked.

“Dear God, thank you for the glorious truths of Acts 12. Even as I strive to show Your love to all, give me discernment to walk with the wise and to shun the companionship of fools. Teach me today to sleep at appropriate times—and to always sleep in faith, even when surrounded by turmoil, because I know You sit on the throne of Heaven. Amen.”

 

Andrew McChesney

News Editor of the Adventist Review