As soon as he realised this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many had gathered and were praying. When he knocked at the outer gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. On recognising Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the gate, she ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel.” Meanwhile Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed. He motioned to them with his hand to be silent, and described for them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he added, “Tell this to James and to the believers.” Then he left and went to another place. When morning came, there was no small commotion among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. When Herod had searched for him and could not find him, he examined the guards and ordered them to be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.
Here we find a down to earth relaying of the facts following Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison. One can also detect something of a sense of humour in the account. I wonder, however, if it may also be the sheer gravity of the matter which touches our hearts most and therefore our lives. I have often thought of the young girl, Rhoda, as not perhaps being taken for whom she was, a valuable member of the household. Some commentators have even suggested that she was mentally deficient. If she was of sound mind – which is probably the more likely scenario – then those inside should have taken more notice of her insistence as she told them who was outside the gate. She certainly does act as somebody who is persistent, persevering and not prone to giving in easily, even when misunderstood.
We do need to remember that the people who were within the house were meeting especially to pray, seeking for God’s intervention in this problem which they had. Peter was being held in prison for no other reason than his faithful testimony of the life of Jesus within him. Yet his life was in extreme danger, James having already been killed at this time of persecution towards believers. There is a real truth here that so often we can be praying about a situation or a person and then, when the answer to that petition arrives we find it hard to accept, or even deny that it has happened.
Doesn’t this challenge us to respond aright to the blessings which other people may relate to and experience for themselves? Sometimes we may not always react graciously when others are blessed. There can be a sour grapes mentality at times. I am not hinting that people wanted Peter to remain in jail and be in danger of losing his life. However, we do need to be careful to ensure that if we are praying then we will at least expect to see an answer to such, maintaining a childlike trust towards the God to whom we are praying.
Loving God, you know us so well, Our thoughts and actions, and the motives behind them. Help us Heavenly Father In those times when we let fear overtake faith, To remember that when we pray, you do listen Acting for our best in every situation, That you alone may have the glory, and we may experience you to be our ever present help. As we pray help us to be expectant people Ready to receive graciously, the answer to our prayers. Amen.
Verena Walder is a Lay Preacher and Elder at Tabernacle URC in Mumbles, South Wales