Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 21, 24, 26, & 28 – And God said . . .
To more clearly see that about which I write, take time today to read Acts 16:16-40. It is the story of the Philippian jailor at the supernatural freeing of Paul and Silas from their bonds. First, let’s lay a bit of back-ground for the time of this story. Rome was in control of the known middle eastern world. They ran the government, the jails, the army, and almost everything else. Under Roman authority, prisoners, assigned to a Roman soldier or in a Roman-controlled jail, were the sole responsibility or the soldier or guard to whom they were assigned. If one of their prisoners escaped, the soldier, or guard, could forfeit his life or be forced to serve the prisoner’s sentence. With that in mind, imagine the terror that flashed through the mind of the Philippian jailor when multiple prisoners were suddenly freed from their shackles, and their prison doors were torn open. If only one prisoner escaped, the end for the jailor could have been horrible. But in this case, ALL the prisoners were loosed. Yet none of them tried to escape. That in itself must have been a wondrous relief to the jailor.
Then suddenly, in the midst of all the tumult following the earthquake, the jailor finds himself facing horrifying possibilities, and Paul speaks to him saying, “Do yourself no harm, we are all here,” and moments later saying to him, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house.” We read the story, and we see that he believed, as did his house. But what we don’t read is still a point we need to consider. For the Philippian jailor, this was a “You talking to me?” moment.
The Scriptures tell us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that this is the second great commandment. Many times, in order to understand our “neighbor,” we need to practice, emotionally and intellectually, what Jesus did. He came, taking upon Himself flesh, so He could be tempted, tested, and tried just like we are, with full experience of what that meant, and having done so, could become our Redeemer. I’m so glad He did that for me. But there are times when we may have to put ourselves in the shoes of those about us who are suffering in dire straits. Put yourself, just for a moment, in the shoes of the Philippian jailor. What would be jolted loose in your thinking if you were suddenly placed in a position of being slain or imprisoned to serve the sentences of a multitude of prisoners. How enormously terrifying that could be. So, when Paul spoke to him, he surely had that “You talking to me?” moment. When you encounter people having one of those moments, especially when it was you who spoke to them, understand where they are, be strong for them, and be sure to speak truth to them in love.
Manna for Today – Genesis 1; Psalm 119:89; Proverbs 4:20-23; Mark 11:22-26; Romans 3:4