A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
"The jailer got a torch and ran inside. Badly shaken, he collapsed in front of Paul and Silas and asked, "Sirs, what do I have to do to be saved, to really live?' They said, 'Put your entire trust in the Master Jesus. Then you'll live as you were meant to live -- and everyone in your house included.' "They went on to spell out in detail the story of the Master -- the entire family got in on this part. They never did get to bed that night. The jailer made them feel at home dressed their wounds and then -- he couldn't wait till morning! -- was baptised, he and everyone in his family. There in his home, he had food set out for a festive meal. It was a night to remember: He and his ntire family had put their trust in God: everyone in the house was in on the celebration." Acts 16:29-34 (The Message).
What a reversal of roles!
Did Paul and Silas ever dream, when they got up that morning, that the day would end like that? Locked in a maximum security cell with their feet in leg irons under heavy guard wasn't exactly on their agenda. They were minding their own business when the slave girl harassed them and called forth Paul's reaction -- evict the demon and restore peace. The outcome was more than they bargained for.
Their response to the vicious treatment they received left all the other prisoners shaking their heads. Praying and singing instead of swearing and protesting! How could these men be so nonchalant about their predicament? And then the earthquake! Not only Paul and Silas were free, but all the other prisoners as well -- and no one took the opportunity to escape! Now that's surprising -- and supernatural -- God would have been guilty of executing a jailbreak!
And then the jailer's response! From a typical authoritarian Roman civil servant, he became a humble enquirer. What did he perceive, in these events, that shook him to the core? He had locked up many a guilty criminal but never had he seen men behave in this way and never had any god intervened so decisively to free his innocent devotees. There had to be more to this than he could fathom.
Fancy a jailer begging his prisoners for mercy! This whole scenario is mind boggling. Paul and Silas grabbed the opportunity to tell him what he wanted to know but they did nothing to capitalise on the strange turn of events to secure their freedom. The jailer had no authority to release them and they put no pressure on him to do anything illegal.
It was the jailer's initiative to take them home and try to undo some of the injustice they had suffered. Since when did a jailer every entertain prisoners in his home, wash and dress their wounds and feed them like royalty -- and all this in the early hours of the morning? His new-found faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the boundless joy that overflowed from his heart produced this passion to serve these two servants of the Lord.
It's no wonder Paul could write these words: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose," Romans 8:28 (NIV). Little did they know that, by the end of that day, a whole family would have been born into the kingdom of God through their suffering.
Every word that Paul penned to the beloved saints in church after church was written in blood and suffering, but every experience was worth it. He could say with utter confidence, "We know..." His Master, Jesus, had to learn obedience through His suffering -- not by trial and error, but by obeying -- and Paul, likewise, learned that the fruit of his suffering was eternal in its value.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV).
Light and momentary troubles? In the light of the eternal value of those who believed through his suffering, yes!
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