It’s just an angel — settle down!

If you’re looking for some levity in the Bible, an honest-to-goodness laugh, read Acts 12:12-17. Stories like this cannot be made up.

Let’s track it: The apostle Peter, fresh off a divine jailbreak, makes his way back from the Big House to his friend’s house in the middle of the night. Inside, the church brass are praying — presumably for what has, unbeknownst to them, already happened.

So Peter knocks on the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda — sweet, excitable Rhoda — gets so amped at the sound of his voice that she leaves the poor guy kickin’ the curb while she runs inside to tell the others that he’s free. He’s standing right there, she says. Right outside!

Apologies all around, but they must have shared the family bucket of Stupid Juice that night, because it didn’t even occur to Rhoda that she had left Peter there herself, and that maybe she should go fetch him lest he be found out.

Oh, don’t worry — it gets dumber. Pick it up in verse 15: “They said to her, ‘You are out of your mind.’ But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, ‘It is his angel.'”

Can’t you just hear them? “Shut it, crazy girl! The adults are praying over here! What are you getting so excited about? What you saw was just an angel. Settle down.” OK, let’s just say it’s not Peter, and it’s not a salesman, and it really is an angel. From heaven. Right there. You don’t get up for that?

Meanwhile, Peter does the one thing he can do. He keeps knocking. Finally some of the adults go to see who it is (“My gosh, don’t these angels take a hint?!”). Then the understatement of the ages in verse 16: ” … when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.” (Maybe “amazed” was Luke’s code for “dumbstruck, like oxen trying to read Latin.”)

So after praying for Peter’s release, and after Rhoda told them point-blank that their prayers had been answered, those goobers had the audacity to be shocked. I would love to have seen Rhoda’s face about then. “Mm-hmm. Crazy girl’s gonna go over here and let you geniuses soak in the moment. Buh-bye.”

I think this is a great story because even though we Christians really can be really thick, God loves us anyway. He’s even willing to include a tale of the thickness in a book testifying to his divine, sovereign power in the early church. I like that about the Bible, that it reveals the human shortcomings that God overcomes to glorify himself and his purposes.

I hope you get a sense of that, too, as you read God’s great book of true stories.

 

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