June 18, 2010

The Jailer

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are thrown in prison in Phillipi. After they are beaten they’re thrown in prison, and around midnight an earthquake sent from God that opened the prison doors and loosed the chains from around their hand and feet. The jailer was woken up by this noise, and saw the prison doors opened; naturally, he assumed that Paul and Silas had escaped. The penalty for allowing a prisoner to escape on your watch was death (according to my NIV footnotes). The jailer was so distressed by this that he drew his sword to commit suicide… when jailers earlier in Acts were given the slip by Paul, they waited around to be executed. This guy (who has a family, we find out) was going to end it then and there. The funny thing, though, is that Paul and Silas didn’t leave when the chains came off but instead stayed and spared this man’s life.

The jailer knew they were Christians, because that’s why they were thrown in prison; besides that, they had been singing songs of praise the whole night. Seeing the connection between their faith and the act of love they had just shown him (and realizing more readily his own mortality, I’m sure) he throws himself at their feet and asks “What must I do to be saved?” “Believe in the Lord Jesus,” they reply. The Jailer takes them to his house in the middle of the night, feeds them, and his entire family is saved and baptized. Then, Paul and Silas go back to the prison so that they are there in the morning and the guard’s life is spared.

After being beaten and thrown in prison, the Paul and Silas are still so focused on Christ that their first action when their path to freedom is open is not “Let’s get out of here,” but “Let’s witness to the jailer.” This imprisonment was all about the Jailer and his family, because it turns out that Paul and Silas were being wrongfully held anyways because there were Roman citizens, and thus should not have been beaten and should have been given a trial.

Physical freedom is in no way important to the Christian. When it is needed, it will be provided (Acts 12). When they were captured, thrown in jail, and then the doors were miraculously opened, it was all about the Jailer’s freedom from sin and becoming a Child of God, along with his family. All this to say: take advantage of negative situations. Face them with praise and a great attitude, pointing to Jesus in word and deed, because it will affect someone for Christ; I guarantee it. We might not get to see the effects immediately (or in this life… but what a blessing when we do!), but regardless, it not only affects others when we do but fulfills our purpose in life and brings us a deep joy and peace.

So get out there, sing some chains off, praise some doors open, and then talk to the first surprised person you see about Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. i wanted to hit the "like" button when I read this, but then realized I could not ~ thanks for the post, Zach ~ I miss hearing you share at home fellowship :-)