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- Stories to Read - Acts and the Epistles
Based on the story in the Bible from the book of Acts 12:1-18
by Steve Harris
Have you ever run away from doing the right thing? Peter did!
Peter was one of Jesus’ closest followers and it was probably the saddest day of his life. It was just before Jesus was crucified at Easter time and Peter told everyone that he didn’t even know Jesus. But it all changed for Peter on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus had come back to life on Easter Sunday. Something amazing happened on that day when God sent the Holy Spirit, which changed Peter for ever – he wasn’t afraid to do what he knew was right!
The church was only just beginning but even so, some of the first Christian’s had already been killed for telling people about Jesus and God’s love. The person in charge of the area they lived in at the time saw that being unkind to Christian’s pleased some other people.
That’s what happens sometimes with bullies – they see that being a bully can bring them friends because some people think it is cool to do mean things to other people.
Peter found himself in big trouble for trying to tell people about Jesus but despite the problems Peter was prepared to trust, although he didn’t understand.
Peter had already seen one of his friends James killed by this bully king called Herod but now Peter found himself in big trouble. Peter found himself in prison and about to go on trial which easily meant he could be killed!
Peter was in chains, between two soldiers, with other soldiers guarding the prison. They were taking no chances!
But Peter’s friends had not given up trusting in God. His friends cared about him and so they met together to pray for him.
Some people think that praying is a waste of time but Peter's friends didn’t, they had seen God answer their prayers many times before. In fact sometimes the only thing we can do is pray. If we know that God answers prayer, and if we believe God answers prayer it is never a waste of time.
So here we had a group of bullies getting ready to hurt Peter. And a group of friends who cared enough to do something about it – they prayed!
Peter lay that night in his prison cell trying to get some sleep.
Suddenly, he thought he was having a dream because out of nowhere there was an angel in front of him telling him to get up. It seemed like the most amazing dream ever. The Angel told Peter to get up, and Angels being scary at the best of times, Peter did what he was told, and as he did some amazing things began to happen! The chains fell of his wrists! So, he put on his coat and shoes quickly and quietly.
The prison guard just stood there as if they were fixed in time. Then as the angel started to lead Peter the great heavy doors of the prison opened in front of them and they walked straight out.
For Peter it seemed like the most amazing dream ever! They even walked past the guards unnoticed and out of the iron gate of the city.
It was when “the dream” got to this part and Peter reached the end of the street he realised that it wasn’t a dream at all! It really was happening and God was setting Peter free! The angel was gone and the prayers of Peter and his friends had been answered.
It was an incredible miracle and Peter hadn’t even realised it was happening until it was all over!
Peter was still in shock as he made his way to the house of his friends to give them the good news. I don’t think Peter realised that this was the very house where his friends had met to pray. As Peter knocked on the door everyone inside froze.
Who would be at the door at this time of night? Perhaps the bullies had come to take someone else away to prison? All the men in the house looked at each other but no one really wanted to go to the door so they looked around for someone to send.
Eventually, someone was chosen. It was a young girl! What a bunch of wimps! A young girl called Rhoda who worked in the house was sent to answer the door. Whilst everyone else started praying again hoping it was just someone come to join the prayer meeting.
As Rhoda was inside the door Peter was outside saying “let me in, quickly let me in”
Rhoda was so surprised to hear Peter's voice. She ran back into the house to tell the others. “Come quick, Peter is outside, he’s alive our prayers have been answered.”
The truth was no one believed her! “Quiet we’re praying” one of the men said and then started praying again “O God, please help Peter get out of prison alive.”
But Rhoda couldn’t contain herself and she continued to tell them “Peter’s outside!”
“Don’t be daft Rhoda, Peter’s in Prison!” said one of the ladies
The truth was they were praying but they couldn’t believe there prayers have been answered.
Funny that isn’t it? Sometimes God answers our prayer and we don’t even believe it when it happens. Sometimes we just say it was a co-incidence, or it just happened that way.
Someone else in the house piped up: “No, it must be a ghost – they have obviously killed Peter!” Strange really as I don’t think that they even believed in ghosts! They really didn’t believe that their prayers had been answered.
Meanwhile Peter just kept on knocking waiting for someone to let him in! In the end they did actually listen to Rhoda and someone went back to check out her story – and guess what… IT WAS PETER!
They couldn’t stop talking and were all getting so excited Peter had to get them all quiet. It was a fantastic answer to their prayers. But, Peter knew that he was still in danger so he had to make a get-away and hide for a while.
They didn’t believe it was possible – Peter couldn’t be free. They were praying for it to happen so when it did, it came as quite a shock.
Needless to say the next day at the prison there was total panic. Where was Peter? How did he get away? The guards couldn’t believe it had happened and were in big trouble. The bullies had not got away with it this time
Peter did have to hide away for a while but it wasn’t long before he was back out on the streets telling more people about Jesus and how his life had been changed by the Good News that he came to share with them.
You see Peter knew that Jesus had died and risen again so that Peter could know real freedom not just from prison chains but the chains of the wrong things in our lives, which the bible calls sin. Peter couldn’t help himself he had to tell others about Jesus!
Peter never forgot that day – surprisingly enough - and he was so glad he had a big God and some loyal friends.
Some questions to think about:
Have you ever been bullied?
If you have here are a few suggestions.
Tell God about it – praying is just talking to God and he is always interested in the things that worry and concern us.
Tell your parents or a teacher – sometimes we think that is the weak thing to do but actually it almost always the best thing to do, because they can help us sort out the problem properly.
Don’t be tempted to bully others – some times bullies become bullies because they have been bullied by someone else. God never wants us to be a bully to others.
Be a good friend – Peter had good friends who helped him when he was bullied and we can do the same for others! You never know when it might be you who needs a helping hand!