Acts 12: Herod imprisons Peter
So, we all know anyone named Herod is not a great guy, but in verse 3, it tells us that it pleased the Jews (read: Jewish leaders who opposed the followers of Jesus--not all Jews, of course) when Herod killed James, so he arrested Peter. That's kind of messed up, if you ask me. But then he has a whole bunch of soldiers stationed to guard Peter around the clock. That is really impressive! What kind of threat was it that Peter posed again??
Anyway, Acts is full of so many really cool stories. My study Bible notes that when the angel comes to get Peter and tells him to hurry up (verse 7-8), those are the same words (or similar words) that God spoke to the Egyptians at the Passover--to hurry up and get ready, that there wasn't much time. I had never known that before (or I forgot it--that's always possible...), and that's a really interesting note, as this happens during the festival of Passover.
I'm glad we learn in this story that Peter didn't believe it was really happening until the angel left and he was actually out of prison in the city. Then, the people at Mary's house don't believe Rhoda (incidentally, the only named female servant in Luke-Acts) that Peter is at the gate--after she got so excited that she left him standing outside! It's comical, but it seems real. So often, when I read about how great things were in the early church--everybody got along and shared all their stuff and lots of people joined--it makes it kind of difficult to relate. Did they really all get along that well?? But here, I can relate to being skeptical, to being so surprised as to leave Peter outside. I can understand that!
Verse 15 tells us that the people told Rhoda it couldn't be Peter, it must be his angel. My Common English Bible translates it as "guardian angel," which I thought was interesting. I looked up the word in Greek, and it's just the same word that means angel or messenger, but I guess it's possible that it could also mean guardian angel. I'll have to look into this more...
Finally, even though I was down on the Jews earlier, for being pleased that Herod killed James, I can't help but find Herod's death pretty interesting. He was such a jerk to everyone, killing people right and left, and doing all kinds of bad stuff, so it's pretty interesting that he dies in such a way. My study Bible says this account is fairly similar to the historian Josephus's account of Herod's death, but I wonder if Luke doesn't take some liberties here, just to make a point about ruthless rulers and giving credit to God.