It’s not uncommon in religious circles to hear miraculous claims. Of the claims and testimonials heard, have you ever heard one claim a miraculous escape from prison? A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to cruise with my departed younger brother Victor on the Navy Aircraft Carrier USS Enterprise out of Oakland, California. As we sailed past Alcatraz Island in San Fransisco Bay, I looked at that former maximum security prison and thought of the individuals that had attempted to escape that island in the middle of the bay. It seemed impossible to think of swimming to freedom from Alcatraz, yet several tried and perhaps one successfully—information is incomplete. Some would say such an escape to be a miracle and it would almost seem to be. The Bible record tells of a true miraculous escape from an ancient Jerusalem common prison (Acts 5:19-21).
Both Peter and John were going about doing the work of the Lord despite a previous warning not to do so by the council (Acts 4:19). The Jewish leaders, determined to see this activity cease and desist, once again resorted to arrest and detention of the apostle perpetrators. The context of both run-ins with the Jews reveals that many were interested in hearing the message of the Gospel. Brother J. W. McGarvey’s observation of the leaders of the Jews at the time was: “Their zeal is always kindled when truth begins to make inroads upon them.” Isn’t it the same today? Enemies of the Gospel rise up when the preaching and teaching of Truth begins to make inroads. Some religious friends will appear cordial until the Truth is proclaimed, and then they will take an enemy stance against it. The response is still the same 2,000 years later. This clearly points out if individuals are determined to reject the message and messenger of God, they will!
Do you remember Malchus (John 18:10)? A part of the arresting party of the Lord, Peter cut Malchus’ ear off, but the Lord restored it whole. How could he have continued against Jesus? All indications are that he did continue to reject the Lord. In this case miracles are being performed before many witnesses, the leaders are seeing it themselves, yet rejecting even with a miraculous jailbreak.
In this second round with the Sanhedrin, the angel of the Lord opened the prison doors allowing the Apostles to escape with the instruction to go stand in the Temple and declare to the people “all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20). As they departed the angel replaced door, lock, and all to its original place so that the keepers didn’t even recognize they had escaped, until the Captain sent for them amidst reports they were in the temple doing exactly what they were told to do teaching “all the words of this life.” This must have included the words of eternal life (John 6:68). It also had to include life and immortality through the Gospel (I Tim. 1:10). Would these words be “all that pertains to life and godliness” (II Peter 1:3)? Yes. If all was commanded, then all would be consistent with what the apostle Paul spoke to the Ephesian brethren when he declared all or the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). In the face of persecution and threats of persecution, they went into the temple and spoke the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31).
Are you willing to speak boldly the words of God? God will provide a way of escape for you if you will do what He says, go where he sends, and speak all He has said (I Cor. 10:13). A beautiful verse by Civilla Martin sums up very well; “Be not dismayed what’re betide, God will take care of you.” Your escape will not be like this miraculous first century escape, but appropriate to the occasion. God’s providential care will supply all your need. The Gospel is to be declared boldly to every generation, and be sure the devil’s opposition will be there, too. Remember, God is faithful and will make a way of escape for you and all who serve Him.