Reading Luke and Acts in 2020
Week 36 | Acts 12
Acts 12 Reflections and Questions
By Debby Stikes
“’You’ve lost your mind!’ they responded. She stuck by her story with such determination…” Acts 12:15a (CEB)
This new wave of persecution on the church caused followers to earnestly devote themselves to prayer. I’m talking about serious prayer. Great precaution had been taken to make sure Peter could not escape. Usually, a prisoner was chained to one guard. Peter was chained to two guards and there were additional guards at the door. There was no way for him to get away…
I love stories in the Bible that begin with…there is no way. Our Bibles are full of them. Our lives are full of stories where there is no way, and yet, God has a way. God always has a way. It is never a way we could imagine which is why we should never be surprised when the way opens. A god who never surprises or challenges us cannot be the Living God. God’s way is almost always something we couldn’t see – no matter how hard we looked.
In this whole chapter, my favorite person is Rhoda. Bless her. She got so excited when she recognized Peter’s voice at the door, she forgot to unlock it! Peter, unable to believe what just happened, was left standing at the door, knocking. This must have been an extremely exposed, vulnerable, and uncomfortable position for Peter.
Just think of the scene. The followers are praying for Peter and there is a knock at the door. Rhoda goes to the door to answer and recognizes Peter’s voice. The prayer they are praying is answered! The miracle they are looking for has arrived! There is a way where there was no way! Answered prayer, Peter is safe!
The response to Rhoda is, you’ve lost your mind! You’re crazy! The people are praying for the exact prayer that is answered and yet their response is…there is no way! There should have been immediate recognition their prayer was answered. There should have been no surprise that God showed up and showed out. There should have been joy…but there was disbelief.
Have you ever been told you are crazy when you speak of an unexpected answer to a specific prayer? I have. Actually, if I’m honest, I’ve been told that more than once…several times, in fact. I believe God shows up. I am still amazed at times on the details of how a prayer is answered, but I try really hard not to be surprised that God had a way where none existed. Why would I be surprised when God answers my prayer? That’s the way it is with God.
Here are some questions to think about as you read Acts 12:
Read Acts 12:1-19
A strong argument can be made that this story is an intentional echo of Luke 24:1-12.
- When has God answered a prayer for you in an unusual way? What was your response? Were you surprised the prayer was answered?
- As you listen to someone else tell a story of answered prayer, do you think they must be crazy? How open are you to believe in God’s ability to make a way that you can’t imagine?
- What can you pray for today that would take a miracle to answer?
Read Acts 12:20-25
- How does reading these stories side-by-side help us understand each better?
- How is this also a resurrection story?
- How do you feel about the death of Herod? Do we give honor to God for our ministries or are we proud of ourselves?
- What is your role in the spreading of God’s word to the world? What do you need to do in order to follow God’s call in your life?
Debby Stikes is Director of Discipleship and Care at Griffin First UMC.