“Paul and Silas: The imprisonment”
Acts 16: 22 – 39
Have you even been doing God’s work only to find yourself in a hard and difficult situation? In my eight year reign attending seminary I found myself in some of the most challenging of life’s experiences. I often asked myself, “Really?” Many times I questioned my purpose, my place, and my heart. I pondered “Am I really where you want me, God?” However, each time I witnessed an unmistakable trace of God which catapulted me deeper, further, higher. I grew relentless in my pursuit of Him and it drove me blazingly on my journey toward the glorious Son of God.
In the Book of Acts chapter 16, verse 22 the scene opens where Paul and Silas had caused an uproar in the city and the chief magistrates ordered that they both be beaten with rods. After they had been beaten with many blows they were thrown into prison.
Paul was in the thick of his purpose with God. He was on God’s missionary journey, persecution and all. The trials and tribulations were part of it. Not because it seemed to slip in but because it was written and ordained by the Father. It had to be. The Lord said “for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9: 16). Sometimes reminders of our sinful past give us strength to endure the hardship that comes our way. We can never pay for our sins. How on earth can we determine such a price? Left up to us we would selfishly estimate far too low. Left up to others it would be far too high. Only by grace can our sins be atoned for. They were paid for by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Our payment remitted in full by His death and resurrection. Therefore, it is best that we be reminded of the crucifixion that Christ bore for the sins of all humanity, past, present, and future. As it puts all things in perspective.
The jailer received the charge to keep Paul and Silas securely so he threw them into an inner prison and fastened their feet with stock. “But about midnight…” Some time has passed since they were in prison. Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God while the other prisoners were listening. This reminds me of a scene in the movie “The Shawshank Redemption” when a new inmate Andy Dufresne (played by actor Timothy Robbins) on assignment while serving time played over the prison intercom the song “Sull’aria” (from the opera “Le Nozze di Figaro”) sung by two sopranos. When the prisoners of Shawshank heard this beautiful aria they stopped what they were doing, stood still, looked high up toward the speakers and listened with awe and wonderment. It was audacious. Oh, how the prayers and hymns of Paul and Silas caught the attention of the prisoners that evening. It appears no one was sleeping that night. No doubt the other prisoners had heard of the apostle Paul. What company! A man of God among the vilest offenders that day. Singing praises to the Lord during difficult circumstances indicates the heart of His chosen ones. They were confident in their Lord without knowing the outcome. Their lives were not yet over. There was much work needed to be done and God’s journey continued.
Verse 26 says, “…and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” The timing of this event was no coincidence. Though the praise itself did not cause the earthquake it is clear that it was a result of God’s hand.
The jailer, having been asleep, arose and noticed that the prison doors opened and decided to draw his sword in an attempt to take his own life supposing that all the prisoners had escaped. However, Paul intervened. He chose not to escape but rather tried to bring calm to the situation and announced to the jailer “for we are all here” (verse 28). Can you imagine what the jailer was thinking? The prisoners were on his watch, especially the controversial apostle Paul. His whole life was riding on their imprisonment. To find that the doors were wide open must have derailed him to such an extent he had no hope, and no good excuse to the magistrates. He was in the grip of fear. However, God uses every moment, emotion, and situation to bring about His plan. In verse 30, the jailer trembling, fell down before Paul and Silas and said, “What must I do to be saved?”
I’ve heard people talk how a life threatening circumstance, near death experience, and the hopelessness of fear brought them to their knees before the Almighty God. Our Father knows what it will take to gain our attention and will use circumstances and natural disasters to do it.
When you are a true follower of Christ you will more likely stand out in the crowd. As such, you cannot follow the crowd. You know whom it is that you follow and it is not man. Followers of Christ will constantly go against the grain and cannot be controlled. It is a difficult path to follow the Lord. You will constantly be tested of your allegiance. While those in the crowd may profess to be Christian the result of their outward actions will prove not to be any different from unbelievers. Few will choose to give up themselves and give of themselves to follow God. The weakness to please man is much too great.
To follow Christ means you may not attain reward, riches, or promotion. The apostle Paul was a true follower of Christ. His allegiance to God was known not only by his verbal proclamations, but by the actions he demonstrated in his life. Even more, the actions of God that led him.
The Word in Motion: An Interactive
It’s one thing to surrender to man, but have you surrendered to God?
What does it mean to serve God?
Is your Christianity a long-term view or a short-term range?
The Next Devotional
“Keep it High”
“Paul and Silas: The release”
Acts 16: 22 – 39
Copyright 2013 by The Word in Motion