13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.
So, God sent His angel to free Peter from prison, and I must say I am always awestruck when I read the part that Peter slept soundly while in chains between two soldiers. What strong faith he must have had. As I read that the angel of the Lord “…smote Peter on the side, and raised him up…” I can’t help but think, “How could he be sleeping through this so soundly that the angel had to smack him on the side and say wake up, let’s go.” I am not sure if I could have such strong faith in such dire circumstances, but I digress. 😉
We see in the above Scripture that Peter went straight to the house of Mary and knocked on the door and the damsel Rhoda (whose name means rose) came to answer his knock. I can so relate to Rhoda. In her great excitement that Peter was outside the house, she forgot to open and let him in. I can see myself doing the exact same thing, “Oh, Peter, it’s you!” Shut the door and run to tell everyone, “Our prayers are answered. Praise God! Peter is at the door!” I, too, would be so elated that God had so quickly answered our prayers and that Peter was safe, I must run and tell everyone! I like to imagine God smiling down and chuckling at Rhoda’s reaction. Well, they thought she had lost her mind, and they even said maybe what she saw was his angel – it was a common Jewish belief that every Israelite was given a special guardian angel who looked like him. There they were praying constantly, crying out to God, all in one accord, for God to intervene. Yet when they were told that He had answered their prayers, they did not believe? Ahh, our humanity… Peter continued to knock and they finally opened the door and were astonished, at first. I am sure as they welcomed him in and listened to him recount how God delivered him from the jail, they praised and thanked our great YAHWEH.
Rhoda lived about 43 A.D. during the first Christian persecution of Herod Agrippa, the grandson of the infamous Herod the Great (Matthew 2). She was the maid of John Mark’s mother Mary, in whose home the small congregation in Jerusalem often gathered to pray. On this night, they had prayed long past midnight for the release of Peter from prison. Since James, the brother of John, had already been put to death, the young church feared the same fate for Peter. While they were passionately praying, Rhoda heard a knock at the gate and ran to the door. She immediately recognized Peter’s voice when he spoke to her. But, as we see above, in her excitement, she forgot to open the door. She left Peter standing outside the closed gate. She ran, bolting into the room and interrupted those praying, and with great excitement she announced that Peter was standing at the door. Rhoda never doubted whose voice she had heard. She was terribly excited but not surprised that God had heard their pleas. Unlike the others, who had to open the door and see Peter with their own eyes, Rhoda had faith great enough to know that God would answer their prayers, even in the most unexpected way. The mundane tasks assigned to her as a household servant did not keep her from experiencing the joys of being a part of kingdom business through her genuine, believing faith.