Daily Devotion for June 19, 2011
Trinity Sunday (1st Sunday after Pentecost)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to me your servant grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep me steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring me at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever.
Prayer for the Holy Spirit's Guidance
Gracious God, Send your Holy Spirit to deepen my worship life. Open my heart to the gifts and cultures which surround my church. Open my heart to the people who are different from me. In Jesus' name, I pray.
Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
And the Lord shall save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.
He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me,
For there were many against me.
Acts 12:1-10 (NIV)
Peter Escapes From Prison
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. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.
This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists.
Then the angel said to him, "Put on your clothes and sandals." And Peter did so. "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me," the angel told him.
Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
Notes on the Scripture
As noted yesterday, the King Herod now in power is neither the Herod (Herod the Great) who massacred the innocent Hebrew children nor his son (Herod Antipas) who beheaded John the Baptist and ruled during the crucifixion; this one is named Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great. Like his father and grandfather, he is a "client king" of Rome, which signified a tad more autonomy than what we would call a "puppet"; but he rules only with Rome's approval. There were Herod's galore during this period; it isn't really necessary to keep them straight, as they are all Jewish kings, clients of Rome, and potently anti-Christian.
Herod Agrippa is as ruthless as his predecessors and does not have the religious scruples of the Sanhedrin (although he is supportive of them). If he does not like someone, he kills them. He has James put to death by the sword. This is James (the Greater), who is the Apostle John's brother.
James was known to have a fiery temper; he was called "the son of Thunder" and it might be this trait that got him killed so early. Other historical sources state that James traveled to Iberia (which was a major stop on Phoenician trade routes) before he returned to Jerusalem and death; he is the patron saint of Spain. Since the year is now about 44-46 A.D., 15 years since the death of Christ, this is entirely feasible.
In the painting of him by Rembrandt (below left), he is pictured wearing the cloak of a pilgrim; he has set down a pilgrim's hat in front of him, and a pilgrim's staff rests on the wall to his side. This honors the long journey of his remarkable mission, so early in the Apostolic age.
Peter, on the other hand, is once again rescued from prison by God. There is no earthquake this time; an angel simply strikes off his chains, has him cover himself with his cloak, walks him past the guards, and opens a gate of the city for him.