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God delivered Peter like the Hebrews in Daniel

June 8, 2022

Daily Scripture

Daniel 3:25, 6:21-22, Acts 12:1-2, 5-16

Daniel 3

25 He replied, “Look! I see four men, unbound, walking around inside the fire, and they aren’t hurt! And the fourth one looks like one of the gods.”

Daniel 6

21 Then Daniel answered the king: “Long live the king! 22 My God sent his messenger, who shut the lions’ mouths. They haven’t touched me because I was judged innocent before my God. I haven’t done anything wrong to you either, Your Majesty.”

Acts 12

1 About that time King Herod began to harass some who belonged to the church. 2 He had James, John’s brother, killed with a sword.
5 While Peter was held in prison, the church offered earnest prayer to God for him.
6 The night before Herod was going to bring Peter’s case forward, Peter was asleep between two soldiers and bound with two chains, with soldiers guarding the prison entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel from the Lord appeared and a light shone in the prison cell. After nudging Peter on his side to awaken him, the angel raised him up and said, “Quick! Get up!” The chains fell from his wrists. 8 The angel continued, “Get dressed. Put on your sandals.” Peter did as he was told. The angel said, “Put on your coat and follow me.” 9 Following the angel, Peter left the prison. However, he didn’t realize the angel had actually done all this. He thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself. After leaving the prison, they proceeded the length of one street, when abruptly the angel was gone.
11 At that, Peter came to his senses and remarked, “Now I’m certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod and from everything the Jewish people expected.” 12 Realizing this, he made his way to Mary’s house. (Mary was John’s mother; he was also known as Mark.) Many believers had gathered there and were praying. 13 When Peter knocked at the outer gate, a female servant named Rhoda went to answer. 14 She was so overcome with joy when she recognized Peter’s voice that she didn’t open the gate. Instead, she ran back in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate.
15 “You’ve lost your mind!” they responded. She stuck by her story with such determination that they began to say, “It must be his guardian angel.” 16 Meanwhile, Peter remained outside, knocking at the gate. They finally opened the gate and saw him there, and they were astounded.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The stories from the book of Daniel echoed through God’s people’s history in later times. Acts 12 recorded an effort by Herod Agrippa 1 (the grandson of Herod the Great, who tried to have the infant Jesus killed—Matthew 2:16) to suppress early Christian preaching. Luke’s record made it plain that Christians didn’t take the Daniel stories as assuring God’s earthly deliverance. James died; Peter was miraculously set free to continue his ministry. Luke didn’t try to explain away the different outcomes.

  • John’s gospel taught that God’s miraculous actions, at any point in the Bible, were not an end in themselves. “John calls the miracles ‘miraculous signs.’ A sign points toward something else…. These signs [are] miracles that point to the identity of Jesus and the nature of life in Christ.” * The rescue of Daniel or of Peter pointed to God’s power as greater than an earthly ruler’s. Why does it matter to you today that, in the end, God has more power than any earthly leader?
  • Scholar N. T. Wright noted, “Luke is allowing us to see the early church for a moment not as a bunch of great heroes and heroines of the faith, but as the same kind of muddled, half-believing, faith-one-minute-and-doubt-the-next sort of people as most Christians we all know.” ** The people in Acts or Daniel were like us, not super-human. How can that encourage you when someone at the church (or you yourself) aren’t as above-the-crowd faithful as you think they should be?

Lord Jesus, give me eyes to see the signs (big or small) of your presence that point me to the eternal realities of your kingdom. And then give me a heart to move in the direction the signs point. Amen.

GPS Insights

Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality, teaching at several seminaries. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. Her latest book (Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness, Abingdon Press, 2017) traces ancient mindfulness practice for Christians today.

Let me tell you a story: My husband died in October and I’m learning again that grief is not linear. I may have weeks of hope-filled energy and then whomp! – a wave of sorrow swamps my boat and I’m weepy for days.

In April, my granddaughter was born. I felt so much joy and a sense of new life! Still, I was hit by an undertow of sadness. I couldn’t turn to Perry and share these exquisite moments. His absence was piercing and painful. I was shocked that I could feel bereft even as I felt the joy of this beautiful baby in my arms.

Life is just this messy. It’s full of contradictory and complex experiences. Life resists easy categories and labels. That’s why stories are a central hallmark of human civilization. Stories can carry this messiness and complexity. Stories tell the truth in ways that explanatory language misses.

The latest sermon series at Resurrection is on Old Testament stories. The Bible is mostly story-telling. That’s interesting to notice when so much of our contemporary religious life focuses on explanations and definitions, a completely different way of knowing than story-telling.

Neurologically, stories are much more effective at conveying large amounts of information in coherent and meaningful structures, leading to greater comprehension and memory. Stories invite us to engage and participate.

Stories are perhaps THE most effective form of human speech. Ancient and traditional cultures know this. Stories are a highly sophisticated form of human knowing, able to contain complex bodies of knowledge and wisdom. Maybe that’s why Jesus relies almost exclusively on stories.

I’m still living out my story within God’s larger story. Dive into the stories of the Old Testament! They are messy and glorious, full of wisdom and truth. You may just find your own story there.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Hamilton, Adam. John: The Gospel of Light and Life. (p. 33). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
** Wright, N.T., Acts for Everyone, Part One: Chapters 1-12 (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 186). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.