By Pastor David M. Choi
Like the King Herod who was threatened by the arrival of Israel’s Messiah, here, we stumble across another King Herod who is now threatened by the followers of that same Messiah. He kills James the brother of John, and then, after seeing his approval ratings blow through the roof among the Jews, he seizes the apostle Peter and throws him into prison.
While in prison, Peter is bound in heavy chains and securely kept an eye on by prison guards. Like an animal, he is cornered in tight space with no way out, with no hope of escape apart from outside intervention. And one can’t help but ask: Where does the mind wander, and where does the soul venture off to, once a person realizes that there really is no hope, that they may never see the light of day again? It seems there is no place to go except towards death.
In this moment, Peter is inching closer and closer towards death; however, we see that the Spirit of life remains close by. Specifically, he brings light into Peter’s cell, a sign of hope (v.7a). Secondly, the Spirit breaks every chain and shackle that keeps Peter in bondage and despair (v.7b). And third, in the shame of Peter’s nakedness, the Spirit tells him to clothe himself, by which we see the dignity of Peter’s humanity being restored (v.8).
What are your prison walls made up of? What are those addictions, habits of behavior, debilitating sins, you just can’t seem to shake? What despair is currently weighing you down? Don’t ever forget, when you feel the prison walls of sin closing in, you are never alone. The Spirit of God, our ever present help in times of trouble, he remains close by. He is the hope of our liberation from sin, the power of God who sets us free.
Lord, so often, I feel like I am a prisoner in my own body, a prisoner to sin, lust, and other sinful addictions and thoughts. No matter how hard I try and break free, I end up right back where I started! So, shine your light upon me, O Spirit, so that I might receive the hope of your salvation. By the power of your grace, free me from the Devil’s grip, and make me more like Christ. Amen.