It’s there in Acts. The fledgling church is empowered through the Holy Spirit, the men who once disappeared in fear during the crucifixion now step boldly into the streets. Some are killed, but the preaching goes on. The Word of Life is spreading like wildfire through the city.
James Zebedee (the brother of John) is one of them, a disciple of Jesus who once hid in fear, but he’s now proclaiming the Messiah has come and will return. In anger, Herod has him arrested and put to death with the sword. Another martyr’s blood is spilled.
Near the same time, Peter is seized and placed in prison. He is chained, and placed between two guards in a locked jail cell. Herod is planning another death, desiring to kill off Christians to please the Jews.
But this time God moves. An angel of the Lord walks right into the jail cell, the chains fall off, Peter is told to stand up and follow. Doors open in front of them. Guards are blinded to them.
When Peter arrives at the home of Mary, mother of John-Mark, instead of letting him in, the servant girl, Rhoda, leaves him standing there and runs to exclaim to the gathered Believers, “Peter is at the door!”
They thought she was crazy. But time proves her words. It is Peter, rescued from the edge of death.
And here’s the question this passage begs, Did God love Peter more than James?
For one He allowed a sword to stop the beat of his heart, for another He sent an angel to open doors and break through chains and blind soldiers. For one there seems to be no miracle at all, and for another the miracles just keep spilling.
And I realize, it’s the same question I struggle with daily. Does God love the woman who bears children more than He loves me?
Have you ever been there?
Does God love the girl who finds a husband more than the one who is single? Does God love the girl with the good marriage more than the one who struggles in hers? Does God love those who have steady income more than those who are forced to scrimp and save? Does God love the one whose illness is miraculously healed more than the one who stumbles through debilitating pain?
But here in this passage, there is something that pauses me.
But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, [Peter] described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James* and to the brothers.”
Tell these things.
This is what Peter says. To tell these things. And I don’t think he means they’re suppose to talk about how great Peter is, or how much he is loved. I think he means, Tell everyone how God has miraculously shown His glory to us.
And something settles deep inside me. When I start questioning who God loves more, I’m asking the wrong thing. It’s like burying my head in dirt while the sunset is painting the skies.
Instead of saying, “Hey, God, do love her more than me?” I should be saying, “Oh, Abba, show me Your glory.”
Instead of moaning over the miracles I haven’t been given, I should be shouting with joy that God does miraculous things!
None of us deserve a miracle. Peter did not deserve one more than James. I don’t deserve one more than my neighbor. But sometimes, oh, heart, sometimes the God of the universe displays His glory in brilliant ways. And we are allowed to be witnesses of His grace.
It doesn’t matter if the setting sun paints glory on your lawn, child. What matters is that the setting sun paints. And no matter where we are in the world, or in our lives, if we choose to look at the sky, we’ll see the swirls of colors.
And no matter where you are in the world, or in your life, if you choose to look for His glory, you’ll find Him.
*assumed to be either James, the brother of Jesus or James Alphaeus, another of the 12 disciples