Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. This week, as part of our series on the identity of Jesus, we’re going to study a story where Paul and Silas, two early Christian missionaries, escaped from jail.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. (Acts 16:25-34 ESV)
Paul and Silas had recently cast a demon out of a slave girl, who apparently lost her ability to tell fortunes. Her owners saw Paul’s actions as an attack on their property, all for the sake of some seemingly strange religious beliefs. They were accused, flogged and thrown in jail.
Just like the story we heard a few weeks ago, God got his people out of jail, and this time they weren’t alone. Everyone could hear them singing and praying, and knew the connection when a mighty earthquake shook the whole building, the chains were broken, and the doors opened.
Everyone was freed this time, not just God’s missionaries. But they amazingly stuck around, maybe because they recognized this wasn’t just a fluke opportunity to take advantage of, but an act of God.
Our theme this week is community, and you can see it here. Wherever Paul and Silas go, they create community around them. They lead people to stick together and become one unit…whether they are jailers or prisoners.
Speaking of jailers, this one was in serious trouble. The Romans dealt severely with jailers, or anyone who messed up, and with his jail having busted open and him having lost all his prisoners, this guy’s life is now at risk. He was even at the point of killing himself to avoid the punishment, but Paul shouted for him to stop. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”
Again, these early Christians form community. Instead of saving themselves, they stay at the jail, at their own risk. Instead of letting the jailer kill himself, and then taking advantage of the chaos to escape, they share with him the very message that got them in trouble.
Question: How do you see the jailer passing on the sense of Christian community he’s just experienced?