August 4, 2007 – Acts 12:6-17 – Peter’s Deliverance
When we read this portion of Acts, we may be tempted to disbelieve Luke’s story; after all, Peter is set free from prison through unusual circumstances. Peter has a vision in which gates open to him and an angel accompanies him; they pass by guards who do not see either of them. I have read this story before but for some reason today this time I notice verse 12. It tells us that the remaining apostles had been praying – Luke does not tell us any specific petitions they offered, but we can well imagine that one of their prayers would be for Peter’s deliverance.
Something else strikes me differently today. We are told the name of the maid who answered the door – she is called Rhoda. Why does Luke include a serving woman’s name? Perhaps he is trying to insert evidence into his narrative so that we also will believe the miracle that has taken place. Perhaps Rhoda was quite young at the time of Peter’s miraculous escape and was now old and was telling her story to all who would listen . . . and so Luke carefully records it, perhaps at her insistence. Maybe Rhoda was not so young and her son or daughter was re-telling the story. We may well wonder. Does Luke use this small detail in an attempt to verify the story of the angel? We do not know.
As I reflect I find something further to which I have paid little attention – and this is not surprising, given the era: the congregation does not quite believe Rhoda. They think that she is reporting her own wishful vision – and they believe that they too are seeing a vision of Peter rather than Peter himself. They have been praying for the miracle of Peter’s deliverance, the miracle is granted, and yet they do not believe what stands before them.
Miracles granted and yet not believed. We are so quick to explain away the simple answer that God is always accompanying us, loving us, and granting our wishes.
Let us begin today to believe the miracles that surround us.