ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS: THE JAILER


The Bible is History... His Story.

The Holy Scriptures include the history of the universe; The history of mankind; The history of the Hebrew nation; The history of the church. His Story. In every book, every chapter, every encounter, our triune God is the hero and the central character. The Bible is the story of God’s encounters on earth.

I’m fascinated by the circumstances surrounding these encounters. In each episode, God orchestrated events, moving pieces on the celestial chessboard, often unseen but always actively working to bring about His sovereign will and purpose.

Consider a certain guard at a Roman Prison in the city of Philippi. Lost and hopeless, he was destined for eternal death and destruction. But God wrote the story. Understand, the Jailer was free to decide, to accept or reject, but a loving God made a way for the Jailer to be eternally transformed.

We know that God loved the Philippian Jailer from before his birth, even before creation. So, moved by Divine love and Supernatural grace, God commission Paul and Silas to travel across Asia, almost a thousand miles. The missionaries arrived for their divine appointment in Europe, carrying the Good News of salvation by grace through faith.

But what had to occur for the hard-hearted Jailer to listen to God’s gracious offer? Maybe it was easier to get Paul into jail than it would have been to get the jailer into church... anyway, Paul and Silas got arrested for preaching about Jesus.

Their first meeting didn’t go well. Paul and Silas were “stripped” ... “beaten with rods” ... “severely flogged” ... then put in the dungeon, “secured” with “their feet in the stocks” (Acts 16:22-24, CSB).

With Paul and Silas secured in the inner recesses of the prison, God was still busy. He put joy into the heart of His messengers, so at “midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25, CSB). Such a strange sound, the melody of peace and love vibrating through the rock-walled corridors.

Holy Night! Only God would dare to write this story... Next, a “violent earthquake” and “the foundations of the jail were shaken! ... Immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose” (Acts 16:26, CSB).

Years later, the Jailer had told the story a jillion times. “I knew that I would be executed for allowing my prisoners to escape, so I drew my sword and was about to commit suicide. That’s when I heard Pastor Paul’s voice. He said, ‘Don’t! We’re all still here!’ ” (Acts 16:27-28).

Maybe, in the days leading up to this encounter, the Jailer had heard rumors repeated concerning the message Paul preached. Maybe one of the women who met with Lydia at the riverside was the jailer’s nearest neighbor. Maybe the Holy Spirit was busy convicting and convincing the lost man. This I know: God did it! He’s the Hero of the story. God moved the pieces on the chessboard. God is sovereign!

The Jailer, perplexed by the powerful grace of God, cried out, “ ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ ” (Acts 16:30-31, CSB).

That’s history ... His Story.

Yes! I really, honestly, believe that God is absolutely sovereign. He can do what He wants. He “is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords!” (1 Timothy 6:15, ESV).

South Georgia Baptist Church

Amarillo, Texas

Mike Martin, Pastor

mike@southgeorgiabaptistchurch.org

© 2020