There are two kinds of people in the world.
One kind of person is like Herod the Tetrarch. And the other is like this man we come to know and love in the gospels and Acts – Peter the Apostle. What is the difference? Well, in short, one is independent, and the other is dependent.
In a match of Herod versus Peter, we know where to put our money. Herod wins in a first round knock-out, right? But man’s ways are not God’s ways. And by the end of Acts 12, Herod is literally on the mat, in a very nasty way. Peter is moving on to fight other battles. It looks like dependence may be a better plan in life.
But I’m getting ahead of myself – in this chapter, we see independent Herod making decisions, ruling territories, putting people to death (Both James and a squad of soldiers). Here we see the self-made man, the man of action, the get-it-done-and-take-no-prisoners kind of guy. He is the kind of man that makes others quake when he comes into the room (or speaks – “the voice of god and not of a man!”).
And then there is lowly Peter. Peter doesn’t really do much of anything in this chapter, and perhaps that is by Luke’s design. By contrasting the two, Luke is trying to show us something. Dependent Peter sits in prison and is rescued. And Herod? Herod exerts his great power and is actually the one who wickedly puts him in prison.
When an angel finally sets Peter free, he goes to a nearby house and get this, they don’t even let him in at first. I know it’s certainly not that he wasn’t welcome, but it does set up a fairly hilarious comedy of errors as the newly freed and seemingly powerless Apostle waits outside while nobody believes that God could have possibly answered their prayers.
And when Peter finally makes a report, well, of course, it’s God who gets the praise:
But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought them out of the prison. Acts 12:17 (ESV)
Glory to God…not Peter.
And then Herod. He accepts the praise of men and…
Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. Acts 12:23 (ESV)
You see, there is only one way to live – the prideful and independent person will meet his end, even if it doesn’t come quite like Herod’s – but the humble and dependent person not only shows us how to live; he also shows us how to be saved.
Tomorrow, Thursday, February 26: Acts 13