Peter’s Great Escape

By Maritza Brunt

Peter’s heart was pounding fast, faster than it ever had before. He didn’t dare sit down, in case a rat crawled over his lap again. At least, he thought it had been a rat. It was pitch black in the prison cell, and he really couldn’t tell what creatures were in here.

Peter inched closer to the bars of the cell door, being careful not to rattle the chains around his ankles too much. The last thing he wanted was for the mean prison guards to hear him. Reaching the cell door, he wrapped his hands around the cold metal bars. How had this happened?

Peter thought about the terrible week he’d had. King Herod hated the church that Peter and his friends belonged to. King Herod hated that they talked about Jesus, and how they believed Jesus was the one true King. Peter hadn’t been afraid of evil King Herod. He knew that Jesus was stronger than any king on earth. But now King Herod had arrested Peter and thrown him into jail. Not only that, but he had sent so many soldiers to guard the prison. There was no way Peter could escape, and he knew it was only a matter of time before King Herod decided to do something even more evil.

As Peter closed his eyes, all he could hear was silence, and the occasional squeak of a rodent scuffling across the floor.

Dear God, prayed Peter, I don’t know why You let me end up here in prison, but I know that You always have a plan. Please help me to trust You, and to not be scared.

As he finished his prayer, Peter caught sight of a small light near the tiny window in the prison cell.  Stretching up as far as he could go with the heavy chains around his legs, he looked out the window. Far below the prison twinkled the lights of the city. Peter had been blindfolded when the soldiers brought him, so he had no idea where his house was in the city below. But as he listened to the wind rustling the trees outside, it reminded him of the tree outside his friend Mary’s house. Peter was instantly calm, listening to the gentle breeze. He knew his friends would be praying for him, and he knew everything would be ok.

Peter was right. Far below the prison, through the narrow streets and a little to the left, Mary’s house was full. People who couldn’t fit inside poked their heads through the windows, while others squished in the courtyard. Mary looked at everyone who had come to her house that night, and she felt tears spring to her eyes. Brushing them away, she cleared her throat.

“Our friend Peter is in trouble; King Herod has thrown him into prison,” she told the crowd. “But we know that there is Someone who is even more powerful than King Herod, and we know that His name is Jesus. All we can do is pray.”

Around Mary, people were nodding their heads. Mary closed her eyes and bowed her head, and began to pray. She and the others wouldn’t stop until God provided a miracle.

Back at the prison, Peter was calm. Two soldiers were standing guard outside his cell, and two more had entered his cell earlier and chained themselves on either side of him. Peter had tried to be friendly and talk to them, but the soldiers weren’t interested.

Well, thought Peter, at least I’m not alone anymore. Thank you, Jesus, for giving me company.

And with that, he settled down as best he could on the cold floor and drifted off to sleep.

All of a sudden, bright light flooded the tiny prison cell, and Peter felt somebody shaking his shoulder.

“Peter!” a voice said. “Peter!”

Peter sat up and blinked against the bright light. He couldn’t see the soldiers guarding him anymore. But he COULD see an angel, standing right there in front of him.

Am I still dreaming? thought Peter as he rubbed his eyes.

But when he opened them again, there was the angel, still standing over him. The angel reached down a hand and helped Peter up.

“Hurry,” said the angel. “Get dressed and put on your shoes.”

“Get dressed?” Peter asked the angel. “But I have these chains on my hands and feet!”

As Peter lifted up his hands to show the angel, the chains fell right off his wrists and clattered noisily to the floor. Peter looked down and saw the chains on his ankles were loose, too. He couldn’t believe it, but quickly grabbed his tunic and slipped it over his head, tying it firmly in place. He slid on his sandals, and then reached for the coat the angel was holding out to him.

The angel turned toward the prison cell door.

“Let’s go,” he said with a smile.

As Peter followed the angel right out of the cell, he could see one of the soldiers sent to guard him. But the guard made no move toward them. It was as if he couldn’t even see them! Past the first guard they went, then past the second. The angel led Peter down the hill to the gate that led into the city. It was a heavy gate, made of solid iron, and it usually needed several strong soldiers to open it.

But tonight, the gate just swung right open, letting Peter and the angel onto the dusty streets of the city.

Peter walked quietly for a while, before turning to the angel. “Did this really happen?” he asked.

But the angel was gone.

Peter turned quickly around, looking left, looking right, but it was as if the angel had disappeared into thin air. All of a sudden, Peter realised this really had happened, and it wasn’t a dream! He dropped to his knees right there in the street and bowed his head.

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“Dear God,” he prayed. “Thank you for sending Your angel to come and rescue me!”

Pushing himself up, Peter knew where he had to go. Turning to the street on his right, he began to run as fast as he could, filled with new energy. He turned left, then left again, until he finally spotted the big tree outside Mary’s house.

Slowing down, Peter was filled with gratitude once again. Just this evening he’d been looking at the tree outside the prison, wondering if he would ever get to see and pray with his friends in person again. And now, he was here. Walking up to the door of the courtyard, Peter could hear his friends inside praying. Lifting his hand, he gave three sharp knocks.

From inside the house, Mary heard someone knocking at the door. She looked around, and saw a young servant girl close by.

“Rhoda!” she called. “There’s someone at the door. Could you go and see who it is?”

Rhoda hurried through the courtyard, squeezing her way through people.

“Who is it?” she called through the door.

Peter smiled on the other side.

“It’s Peter!” he called back.

Rhoda could not believe her ears. Peter was supposed to be in prison! Could he really be here?

“Rhoda?” Peter called again. “It’s me!”

It WAS him! Rhoda was so excited she completely forgot about opening the door and instead turned and ran back inside.

“Mistress! Mistress!” she called to Mary, pushing past people. “It’s Peter!”

Instantly, people turned to her. Mary lifted her hands for quiet.

“Are you sure, Rhoda?” she asked.

“Yes!” said Rhoda. “I heard him myself! He’s standing at the door… oh no! He’s standing at the door! I forgot to open to the door for him!”

Rhoda turned around quickly to head back to the courtyard, but someone grabbed her arm.

“You’ve gone crazy,” said a man. “There’s no way Peter is there.”

“Peter’s in prison,” agreed another woman. “Maybe it’s his angel!”

Meanwhile, poor Peter was still on the street, and still knocking at the door. Rhoda must have gone to get Mary, he thought.

Just as he was about to knock again, the door swung wide open, and there were all his friends. Rhoda was smiling from ear to ear, Mary looked amazed, and then everyone inside the house started to talk all at once.

Peter put his hands up and asked everyone to settle down.

“I know you were all praying for me tonight,” he began when everyone was quiet. “And I want to thank you for those prayers. Let me tell you the story of how an angel led me out of prison…”

As Peter went on to tell them the best escape story anyone had ever heard, Mary sat and listened quietly. As the night breeze lifted the leaves from the tree outside her home, Mary watched them and whispered a quiet thank you to God for answering their prayers.

PICTURE CREDIT- Sweet Publishing/ Free Bible Images

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