There’s one in every bunch who seems to provide some comic relief to their friends. I think Peter was “that guy” for the 12 disciples of Jesus. I find him delightful, and love to “see” the color he often painted into the stories of Jesus.
Setting: Jerusalem. An intense time in Israel, with a maniac King (Herod) who had become obsessedwith abusive activities toward followers of Jesus. He had just had James (brother of John and one of the 12) executed. That went over so well that Herod arrested Peter, too.
Peter now found himself in a prison cell under the 24/7 watch of 4 squads of soldier guards. Sixteen guards in a 4-squadron rotation. Two sat beside Peter in his cell, hands bound by two chains, while 2 more guarded the door to his cell. We don’t know what Peter had been through under arrest, but King Herod was famous for brutality and torture, so Peter’s condition couldn’t have been good. Yet, he slept. Deeply, apparently.
A Glowing Angel from God suddenly appears in Peter’s cell, flooding it with Light. I picture this shining angel’s sudden appearance in that dark, smelly, moldy cell. It would have normally elicited shock and fear from the four soldiers and Peter. (Angels are used to that kind of reaction.) But Peter didn’t even open an eye. Nothing stirred him. I imagine the Angel sighing as he literally had to go over and nudgePeter. He was “out!” Not a common situation for an Angel, I would imagine. Glowing Angel said,(likely in a whisper) “Hurry! Get up!” and Peter’s chains immediately fell off.
Glowing Angel returns to his regal stance of glowing. But there’s a problem. Peter’s still just sitting on the ground. Perhaps nodding off again. He’d been through alot…beatings, chains, probable death sentence. You know….part of Peter’s “new life” in following Jesus.
Noticing the lack of activity from this sleepy fisherman-follower of Jesus, Glowing Angel tells him to put his shoes on and get ready to go. Go? Go where? Who are You? Yikes… OK. Shoes on. Again with the Regal Glowing Angel, “Put your coat on, and follow me.” I almost hear the celestial sigh and rolling of the glowing eyes.
Scraggly Prisoner and Glowing Angel walk right past the armed guards at Peter’s cell’s door and then past the next prison guardposts. When they get to the iron gate that would lead to the city, the big old heavy thing opened by itself! Groggy Peter thought he was dreaming. The unlikely pair walked out, and headed up the street.
Glowing Angel of God had completed his brief, irregular rescue mission and disappeared. I wonder if it wasn’t one of the most unusual he’d ever been assigned. Certainly a most uncommon reaction from the chosen Prisoner Peter.
Left on his own, with his shoes and coat on (hopefully), Peter went to Mary’s house, where a secret gathering of followers of Jesus were hiding….and praying. For him.
Fully awake now, he knocked. Here was a safe place for him. Here were people surely praying for his safety…and freedom. Through the door, Servant Girl recognizes that voice. It’s Peter!! Peter awaits a swift, stealthy opening of the door, ready to make quick steps into this safe house. But instead, only silence as Servant Rhoda rushes back to tell the gathered friends that Peter was at the door knocking. Knocking Peter keeps knocking. No one in the room believed it was Peter, assuming he was now dead in prison. The Knocker must be Peter’s angel, they thought.
Nervous Peter is in a predicament….he can’t call out, lest he be caught. He can’t get in, as the door is locked. At any moment the guards might burst from around the corner looking for their missing prisoner.
As the hushed conference continued inside the house, the Knocking Peter continued his frantic knocking…as quietly as he could.
The door finally cracks open…just enough for several eyeballs to see it was Peter. Shushing them with his hand, Peter slips in. What a story he had to tell them! The whispered celebration must have continued the rest of the night.
Meanwhile….back at the jail, frantic guards were searching for Peter. Even Herod was out there looking! But Peter had disappeared. And the most unfortunate guards realized they had spent the last night of their lives in the presence of a Sleepy Peter (and a Glowing Angel) who disappeared without a trace…shoes, coat and all!