Let’s say you had a “get out of Jail free” card (like a great lawyer or fantastic connections with the powers that be or just loads of cash for bail).
You did something that was NOT illegal, but it got you in trouble with some powerful folks and they had you arrested.
What would YOU do?
Paul and Silas had that card – Roman citizenship.
In Acts 16, Paul cast out a demon from a fortune-telling girl – saving her, but turning her owners against him (for she could no longer earn them money). The owners got the local politicians involved and the crowed turned on Paul and Silas.
When Roman officers subsequently arrest Paul and Silas, what do they do?
Pull the “We are Roman citizens. It is illegal to arrest us” card? No.
Instead, Paul and Silas were stripped, beaten, and thrown in jail with their feet put in stocks. (I have seen what some believe are the remains of that prison in Philippi and it is REALLY small, too!)
What would you do in that situation? Pray?
So did Paul and Silas.
But would you burst into song? Break out into praise hymns?
That’s what Paul and Silas did.
I once heard a sermon from black preacher who told what happened next. I wish I could find that recording or a transcription of it. There’s no way I can imitate how he said it, but the preacher said (in effect):
Paul and Silas sang God’s praises so loud that God heard in heaven. God started to tap his foot to the joyous tune which in turn caused a strong earthquake which then caused the jail doors to open and out walked Paul and Silas!
When the angel helped Peter out of jail, Herod killed his guards for letting Peter “escape.” Assuming that Paul and Silas had escaped, Paul’s jailer figured that he would be put to death, too, so he became Samari Jailer, preparing to end his life.
What did Paul and Silas do? Lead the jailer and his family to faith – and freedom!
And after the jailer washed their wounds (finally) and fed them some food (finally), what did Paul and Silas do?
They went back to the jail cell so the jailer wouldn’t get in trouble.
When the Romans told the jailer to let Paul and Silas go free, Paul would have none of it. NOW he pulled the “get out of jail free” card – too late to avoid the beating and abuse.
Why would Paul and Silas do such a strange thing?
They may not have known that their imprisonment would allow the jailer and his family to come to faith. But God knew. And they did.
But surely Paul knew that if he and Silas endured an illegal beating and imprisonment, he would have an ace in the hole with the Roman authorities.
Read how obsequiously they treated Paul and Silas in verse 39: “Sorry, so sorry… ” Paul knew that if he whispered word one to the higher-ups about how he and Silas were treated, those Romans would be in a heap of trouble with Rome. Maybe even death.
So, do you think that the Romans were about to lay a hand on any of the other Philippian Christians with that threat hanging over their heads?
Not a chance!
I LOVE how Paul and Silas laid their lives down for the nascent Philippian church and how God used their sacrifice to save an entire family to boot.
No wonder they sang hymns in prison!
Today’s Readings: 2 Chronicles 17:1-19;3, Psalm 81:11-16, Proverbs 20:26-28, Acts 16:16-40. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).