READ: Acts 16:16-34
- After exorcising the demon from the young girl in the previous story, Paul and Silas are beaten and put in the inner prison. There they are worshiping about midnight when an earthquake struck the prison. For the third time in Acts, witnesses for Jesus are sprung from prison (Acts 5:17-19; 12:6-19). So, that’s not surprising. God seems to let loose His witnesses from prison whenever they are arrested.
- But there are surprises. The earthquake was surely a surprise, but more so because the prisoners (and guard) would have assumed it was caused by the gods to which Paul and Silas were praying. But possibly even greater was the surprise that Paul and prisoners had not escaped. Even as the jailer was prepared to kill himself, Paul assured him that they had not left. His life was spared because of that surprise (compare Acts 12:19).
- Maybe the biggest surprise is the receptive attitude of the jailer. His first question about salvation is not about forgiveness, it’s about how to be kept safe from the god that can produce earthquakes. His second response is how he can express his new-found faith in effective ways. He not only responds to the gospel (tomorrow’s thoughts) but ministers to Paul and Silas, dressing their wounds and feeding them.
- Why does God’s intervention surprise us?
- Describe a time when God surprised you in some way.
- How does your conversion compare to the jailor’s? Did you decide to follow Jesus as quickly as he did?
PRAY: Pray for those you know who remain uninformed about Jesus. Ask God to open doors into their lives so they might hear the gospel afresh. Pray that you are open and responsive to God in your own life.