Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church to God for him.
Peter was in his cell, and if we could borrow the jailer's lantern and visit that dungeon, we should find a "quaternion of soldiers" watching the manacled apostle. Two of them are in the cell and two are before the door. If the prisoner escapes, the guards must pay the forfeit with their lives. This is stern Roman law. The keepers, therefore, are wide awake. Perhaps some of the leaders in this wicked persecution are awake and busy in preparation for the auto-da-fe on the morrow. Around at the house of Mary, the mother of John surnamed Mark, are a company of God's people who cannot close their eyes on that eventful night. They are holding a prayer meeting and entreating God to interpose and spare their brother "Great Heart" from his cruel doom. It was the right sort of prayer, for the Greek word describes them as straining in supplication; for they realise that this is their last resort. But, in the meantime, where is Peter? Lo, he is fast asleep! The children of heaven are awake to pray for him; the children of hell are awake to destroy him. But the heart for which other hearts are throbbing dismisses its own anxieties, and falls asleep as quietly as a tired child on its mother's breast. There were many things to keep him awake during that doleful night; there was a far away wife, and perhaps a group of children up in that home on the shore of Galilee, and he might have worried his parental heart about them. John Bunyan, when in prison for Christ's cause, tells us that this parting from my wife and children hath often been to me in this prison as the pulling of my flesh from my bones. Especially from my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart than all I had besides. But I must venture you all with God, though it goeth to the very quick to leave you. So did the heroic apostle venture all with God. Family, home, labours for Christ, the welfare of the Churches, and his own life, were all handed over into God's keeping, and he, like a trustful child, sinks to rest in his Father's arms. So God "giveth His beloved sleep." Here is a lesson for us all. How did the apostle attain that placid serenity of spirit? As far as we can understand, he attained it by keeping his conscience void of offence, and by anchoring his soul fast to God. An uneasy conscience would never have allowed Peter to cover himself under the sweet refreshment of slumber. Troubled child of God, go look at that most suggestive scene in that Jewish gaol. Paul knew that his martyrdom was just at hand, but he had made Jesus Christ his trustee, and he felt no more uneasiness than he did about the rising of tomorrow's sun. Both those men were just what you profess to be, no more and no less; they were Christ's men. They had no more promise than you have, and no other arm to rely on than you have. In this world, so full of difficulties and diseases and disasters, there are a great many anxieties that make people lie awake. "Tomorrow morning I will go and draw that money out of that bank," says the uneasy merchant, who has heard some suspicions of the bank's solvency. Distrust of our fellow creature's honesty, or truthfulness, or fidelity is sad enough, but a Christian's distrust of his Saviour and his Almighty Friend is a sin that brings its own punishment. Half of the misery of life comes from this very sin. There was a world of truth in the remark of the simple-hearted nurse to the mother who was worrying over her sick child: "Ma'am, don't worry; you just trust God; He's tedious, but He's sure."
(T. L. Cuyler.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.