About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Acts 12:1-5 ESV
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying,
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” Revelation 11:15-18 ESV
Do you remember when King David’s son Absalom was trying to take his father’s throne from him, and there was a battle between David’s men and Absalom’s men? King David wanted to go out and fight with his armies, but they didn’t let him do that. They needed to protect their king, because if he died, everything would be lost. Other people weren’t as important, because only David had the throne. So King David stayed behind and didn’t fight with his men.
King Herod started to persecute the early church. He killed one of the apostles, James, who was John’s brother, and in doing that he removed a very important leader in the church. The Jewish religious leaders were very happy that Herod had done this, and so he decided to go after the apostle in the early church who seemed to be the most powerful person of all. Herod arrested Peter and put him in prison, and his plan was to put him to death also. He might have thought that he had captured the king of the church, and that killing him would be the end of the church. The other believers might have felt a little like that, too. What would they do without Peter? They were very upset, and they prayed together very hard that God would take care of Peter and set him free.
The truth is that Peter wasn’t the king of the church. Jesus was the king, and he still is. Sometimes terrible things seem to happen to Christians, and we wonder why God allows such things to happen, and how we will survive. But God reminds us that Jesus is our king forever, and that there’s nothing that can put an end to his rule. When he lived among us on earth, he was put to death on the cross, and it seemed as if that were the end of everything. But Jesus rose again on Easter Sunday, and because of that, we know that he has defeated sin and death and all the forces of evil, and that there is nothing that will ever put an end to his love and care for his people. We can always put our trust in Jesus, no matter what happens.
Dear Jesus, thank you for being our king and for taking care of your church. Help us to trust in you when things seem hard. Amen.