Friday, May 21, 2010

Chained for Good: Peter

I think it must have been very confusing to be an early Jesus follower.  It's confusing enough for us sometimes, but these guys had to be constantly saying, "Huh?  What's God doing now,  for Christ's sake?!" (and, if they used that phrase, they really meant it - not like people do nowadays, who say it lightly and defame the name of Christ - not for his sake at all...but I digress).  It would have been confusing because God never seemed to do things the same way twice, even when it would have been quite nice if he had.

Take the Big Three Apostles, for example.  Peter, James and John.  These guys were Jesus' BFF's.  We don't want to think about Jesus having favorites, or if he does we'd like to think it might be us.  But the truth is, Jesus always chose these guys to go do stuff with him that no one else got to do.  They got to go into the house when Jesus raised a little girl from the dead.  They were the ones to go up on the mountain and see him transfigured in glory.  They were the ones he asked to pray with him in the garden before was carried away and executed.  Again, if I had been there with Jesus I would have been the obnoxious one saying, "Pick me!  Pick me! Oo, oo, pick me, Jesus!!"  He never would have.  He always picked Peter, James and John.  Which makes what happens to James in Acts 12 extra confusing.  If you read it quickly you might even miss it because it's like a little footnote to what comes next with Peter.  But read what happens to James, one of the Big Three friends of Jesus,
It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.  He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. (Acts 12:1-2)
Poof.  That's it.  James is done.  There's nothing more said of him.  Yet back in Acts 5, all of the apostles were apparently rounded up and imprisoned.  They were put in jail by the High Priest and his thugs, but during the night an angel came and sprung them free.  So when James again ends up in prison in ch 12, he might have thought and prayed, "Okay, Lord!  You know me, your buddy James! Spring me free again!"  It didn't go that way, sadly.  See how confusing following God can be?  And dangerous.  

Peter is the next one tossed in the clink (ch 12).  Herod sees how happy the Jews are to have James sliced open, so he grabs Peter and puts him in stocks too.  I wonder what Peter was thinking the night before his trial and probable execution?  The scripture doesn't say.  He had experienced miracles and he'd felt God's silence when prayers for deliverance were uttered.  Just because we ask God to free us from a prison, it doesn't always mean he will.  Which leads us back to the beginning:  Following God is certainly confusing.  A dangerous adventure.  The funny thing is, I don't think Peter or even James would have wanted it any other way.  They were content with putting their lives completely in God's hands.  For Christ's sake. 

This Sunday is both Pentecost and, at CHBC, Camp Sunday.  So wear campy, red stuff!  The message will look at Acts 12 and how Peter sensed the Spirit's peace and power, even in prison.  
- Curtis