This is a wonderful story, probably familiar to you, in which God sets Paul and Silas free from prison and draws the jailer and his family into a loving relationship with Him through the process.
Though they had just been stripped and beaten, today’s reading opens with Paul and Silas praying and singing hymns to God. And they were doing so with enough passion that the other prisoners could hear them.
I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty incredible. They are not complaining to each other, discouraged, or even sleeping (it was midnight). They were not focused on their circumstances but on God. Putting it in a simply sentence like that may sound trite, but it is no less the truth—and the truth of it is what made all the difference for them. I have a feeling it could make all the difference for us as well.
In the midst of this worship service an earthquake occurs which opens the prison doors. The jailer prepared to kill himself since he believed his charges would escape and he would then be executed for this. However Paul stopped him from harming himself, telling him that all the prisoners remained in the jail. Paul was more concerned about the welfare of the jailer than his own freedom. Hmmm. I have a feeling there is something we could all learn here as well.
This leads to one of the greatest exchanges in the whole Bible. The jailer fell trembling before Paul and Silas and asks ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’
Paul and Silas go on to “speak the word of the Lord”, and in the wee hours of the morning (without delay!) the jailer and his household is baptized. Do you get the sense of excitement bursting from this story as the church watched God work? Do you think God wants to work in our lives and in the church today in ways that are no less exciting?
Sometimes God sends big things and sometimes small things to prepare us to listen to Him. This week at church we are having VBS each evening. Everywhere I look, I see volunteers being used by God to help children listen to the news of His love. Volunteers of all ages are helping kids, holding kids, feeding kids, telling Bible stories and explaining games, being a friend to the kids, laughing and dancing with kids, sharing with them the best news they will ever hear.
And yes—it is very, very exciting!