Persecution against the Church intensifies as the book of Acts moves along. In the opening chapters, persecution began after Peter healed a cripple. It is first directed against Peter and John. They are threatened by the Jewish authorities, but released, because frankly, they have no other choice. They are afraid of the people and they cannot deny the miracle for which Peter and John were arrested. Later (chapter 5), persecution is directed against all the apostles. They are thrown in prison, but God steps in and releases them. Arrested again, the persecution intensifies with imprisonment and a flogging, but the apostles are released.
In the third phase, persecution causes the death of Stephen, which gives way to a persecution of not just the leaders, but all of the Christian Church in general.
As the final chapter on the Jerusalem section of Luke’s Acts narrative comes to a close, the persecution is now initiated by the Jewish king, Herod Agrippa I. If the previously mentioned persecutions seemed grossly unjust, this one caps them all. Killing James, the brother of John “pleases” the Jews. And so, Herod undertook to kill Peter for no other good reason than it would make his countrymen happy.
But as God had done before, The Lord releases Peter.
Make no mistake: God is in charge.
I’ve always found it strange that Christians were gathered to pray for Peter’s release, but when Peter was released, they found it unbelievable. That’s so like us. We pray, and are surprised when God answers.
It’s not exactly a wonderful commentary on our faith at times.