Children of the Bible, Part 20 by Allan McGuirl
Today, we come to the story of a an interesting young lady as we continue with our series, Children of the Bible. She was a servant girl with the beautiful name, Rhoda, which means “rose.” She worked for Mary, the mother of John, in Jerusalem and in Antioch.
Now these were dangerous days for believers in Jesus, the Son of God. After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the disciples were sent to take the Gospel everywhere. However, there were many, especially in places of authority, who opposed this new faith. Days earlier, King Herod had beheaded John’s brother, James. When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he planned to execute Peter as well. He had Peter arrested and thrown into prison. He was placed in the care of four squads of four soldiers each. Two would stand guard at the entrance of the prison, while two others were chained to him on either side. They were taking no chances on him escaping. After the Passover feast, Herod was planning to bring him to trial. We can be sure that the outcome of this mock trial had already been decided.
The night before Herod planned to bring Peter to trial, something amazing happened. As Peter was sleeping between the two guards, a bright light shone in the prison and an angel of the Lord appeared. The angel rapped Peter on his side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and as he did so, the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. “Put on your clothes and sandals,” the angel instructed. Peter obeyed. “Now, wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” The Bible tells us that Peter followed the angel. They walked past 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, the angel left him. Peter didn’t realize what was actually happening; he thought he was dreaming or walking in a trance. However, when the angel left him and he found himself out on the street, he realized that God had actually sent an angel to deliver him from Herod’s clutches and from the wicked plans of the Jewish prosecutors.
At the same time, something else was happening on Peter’s behalf. In verse 12, it says that many people had gathered at Mary’s house for what we would call a good old-fashioned prayer meeting, because they knew what Peter would be facing the next day. Even Rhoda, the servant girl, was there, and all were praying into the night. When it dawned on Peter that he was actually free, he decided to go to Mary’s house; she was the mother of John Mark, one of the young believers. Peter knocked on the outer entrance of the house and was ready to tell everyone about the angel freeing him from prison. He could hardly wait to share his story. Rhoda heard the knock, went to the locked door, recognized Peter’s voice, and in her shock and excitement, ran back to the prayer meeting to announce that Peter was at the door! The people stopped praying to listen to Rhoda, but they didn’t believe her. They told her she was out of her mind. When she kept on insisting it was Peter, they thought it must be his angel. Meanwhile, Peter continued to knock at the door. They finally opened the door and, in astonishment, let him in. With all the commotion, Peter motioned for them to be quiet and gave the account of how the angel woke him, had him pass by all the guards without them waking, and went through the gate and into the city streets where the angel left him.
Did you know that angels are mentioned almost 300 times in the Bible? I think of Psalm 91:11, where it says, “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” That’s another interesting topic that we may explore in the future.
Getting back to Rhoda, she expressed more faith than the adults at that prayer meeting. She believed right away that it was Peter and kept insisting it was so. I have often wondered how this incident affected Rhoda during the rest of her life. No doubt it strengthened her faith in an amazing way. I’m sure she never tired of relating the story to anyone who was interested. Perhaps she passed it on to her children, as well. Often we are unaware of the far-reaching results of our faith and testimony and the power of a single incident in our lives. We need to exercise that kind of faith, knowing that whatever we ask of God, believing, He hears and He will answer.