Some slave owners, motivated by greed – or simply by desire for easy or quick gain. A woman with a supernatural power – not by the Holy Spirit of God, but by demon possession: she is moved in life by the devil’s agent, and is not her own person. Magistrates ignore justice and due process, driven by public opinion and personal gain. Life is so bleak, and options so few, that the prospect of prisoners having escaped – meaning that the jailor would have to fill out their sentences – is grounds for suicide. It’s not a nice city; it’s a dark city. But it’s the city that Paul and Silas arrive at. Thank God.
A number of people’s lives are quickened, enlivened, as they turn to Jesus at the faithful witness of these men. Miracles are witnessed: a demon cast out; an earthquake that breaks shackles and opens cell doors. Jesus is proclaimed – the light shines in the darkness. The darkness of that city cannot overcome it. Thank God for the witness of these two faithful men – lives grounded in the assurance of salvation in Jesus Christ, they declare Jesus until they can’t, due to disturbance from the demon-possessed woman; they bear unjust cruelty and punishment peaceably; they pray while they’re bound in prison; they sing praises to God while they’re bound in prison; they receive incredible release, and they go right on proclaiming Jesus to the one who held them captive – baptizing his entire family when they come to accept Jesus’ Lordship.
The secret, in the end, is this: they are pure of heart – singular in intent. They seek God’s Kingdom in all circumstance. Nothing diverts them from that goal. Because of this, they are free even in prison. Because of this, they have light even in the darkness of their cell.
I am thankful for those who have helped to direct me to the light of Christ. Life is full of too many changes and chances, and far too many lives are tossed and turned about in its billowing waves. All lives that do not have Jesus, the Word of Life, in them are tossed and turned in the wind and waves of life. These seas are rough. I thank God for the lighthouse.