Triumphant #Joy #7: The Jailer and His Family:
“Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.” (Acts 16:22-24).
After being stripped naked and severely beaten, Paul and Silas were thrown into the inner dungeon in the jail. They were persecuted, suffering, and chained and put in stocks. If ever there was a good time for them to get sad, depressed and miserable, I think this would have been it! I don’t think anyone would fault Paul and Silas if they had gotten a little upset after experiencing everything they had just gone through. But they didn’t. Instead, read what happened:
“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.” (Acts 16:25-26).
It was the midnight hour, when things are typically the darkest, bleakest and hopeless – the perfect time to give up. But instead, they were praying and praising God. And the other prisoners heard them! It wasn’t just a quiet little whisper, “Jesus loves me this I know…” They were singing, celebrating and full of joy! They were rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer persecution for the cause of Christ. And as a result of that, their chains were loosed, and they were set free.
Now some of you might conclude, “Well, all I have to do is pray and praise God and all of my troubles will disappear!” Even though it’s true that the Lord supernaturally delivered Paul from prison this time, there were other times that he was in jail but the Lord didn’t set him free. Sometimes God brings about a miraculous deliverance and stops the storm, but other times He simply calms you as His child and gives you joy in the midst of your trial.
Years after this incident, Paul would write to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (4:4). I like the fact that Paul practiced what he preached. He was rejoicing even in prison. We are to rejoice always, not just when everything is going perfect in our lives.
“And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. (Acts 16:27-34).
What an amazing transformation takes place here! This jailer, who likes to beat people up for fun, sees the supernatural joy in Paul and Silas’ lives, and his response is, “How can I become a Christian?” The same man, who an hour ago was beating them, is now washing and tending to their wounds and throwing a BBQ for them! I don’t think that would have happened if Paul and Silas had sat down in the dungeon crying the blues. But because of the joy of the Lord he saw in Paul and Silas, this jailer was transformed, and his whole family was saved. And – they rejoiced!
Pastor Chris Jordan