What Comes of Peter; What Comes of Herod
We read now what happens to Peter. While sleeping between two soldiers in prison, an angel awakens him as his chains fall off, orders him to dress, and leads him out of the prison and past two other guards. We are nowhere told that the guards were sleeping, neither those Peter was chained between, nor those keeping the doors, though that is possible. Or perhaps they were simply kept from seeing what happened in some miraculous way. In any event, Peter escapes and when he finally enters the city, the angel leaves him, and he realizes that he is not seeing a vision but is instead freed from Herod’s designs on him. He then goes to the house of John Mark’s mother (yet another Mary), apparently knowing it to be a place where the disciples meet to pray. The account becomes almost humorous as Rhoda, the servant girl, hears Peter’s voice at the gate but leaves him standing there alone while in her joy running inside to tell the others of his presence. Her intelligence would have been better received had she brought the evidence with her, because they accused her of being mad.
Now in this episode, the servant girl is the more faithful witness. It is sad that here these believers are praying for Peter, indeed earnestly (12:5), and yet when receiving the wonderful news that he is at the door, suspect the sanity of a sincere girl, whose only sin was that she happened to forget to bring Peter with her into the house. But is this not a fitting picture of ourselves? Do we not often utter prayers for others only to be surprised when they are answered? They even came up with the lame excuse for not believing by continually saying, “It is his angel.” When they finally invite Peter inside the house (a sensible resolution to the matter at hand), he tells them the whole story of how God had indeed answered their prayers and asked them to inform the brothers of whom James, the Lord’s brother, now seems to be the principle figure. On the morrow, the poor guards were unjustly slain by Herod, who apparently didn’t feel quite right if he weren’t killing someone. I say, “unjustly,” for obviously the men were cheated by deity and not of their own negligence. But we may justly assume that they were ungodly men, and though unjustly accused still rightly dispatched.
We then read of wicked Herod’s hideous demise. The chapter ends with the vindication of the righteous and the condemnation of the wicked, which will happen either here or at the Throne. But the most important detail is that “the word of God increased and multiplied.” Yes, Peter lived on and Herod died as right would have it—but the word of God increased and multiplied.