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Posts Tagged ‘“Now You See Him…”’

Verse 11: “And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.””

“Take this man to prison”, the man heard Herod say,
And then four squads of soldiers came and carried him away,
Chained up between two watchmen, Peter tried to sleep,
But beyond the wall, an endless prayer was lifting for his keep.

Then a light cut through the darkness of a lonely prison cell,
And the chains that bound the man of God just opened up and fell,
And running to his people, before the break of day,
There was only one thing on his mind, only one thing to say.

– 1st stanza of Angels, by Amy Grant

I know that Amy Grant song by heart, and boy, does it sum up this passage!

I’ve always enjoyed watching escape artists and magicians; I know I have mentioned before that my favorite episode of the Columbo TV series was “Now You See Him..”. In that episode, the murderer was an illusionist/magician named The Great Santini. His piece de resistance was an illusion called the Water Tank Escape. Picture this: Santini steps into an air-tight box, which is then latched, chained and locked with several padlocks. The box contains just under 10 minutes of air. It is then raised by a small winch and suspended in a tank of water in full view of the audience. The box is not sitting in the tank; it is suspended so you can see under it. At the end of the 10 minutes, the hooded assistants hurry to get the slowly-lifted box out of the tank and unlocked. However, once opened, Santini’s daughter, Della, emerges and stands to the applause of the audience. Santini himself then removes his black hood, revealing that he was one of the hooded assistants.

Looking at the parameters of that television “inescapable” trap, you have to be impressed. Now look at the real-life escape of Peter. Chained to a prison cell wall, with two guards at the door, and four squads of soldiers assigned to prevent him from escaping. This is real; this is historical. Herod probably would think smugly “there’s no way he can escape”. However, Herod has not reckoned with the almighty power of God! God’s angel wakes him (he was sleeping), the chains just fall off his arms, he is led by the angel past the guards, out of the prison, to the gates of the city, and the gates just open! Now, that is an impressive escape! Up to that point, Peter thought he was dreaming or having another vision. As verse 11 states, when he “had come to himself” (e.g., realized he was awake), he gave credit to the One who made his escape possible!

So the next time you think you’re trapped in some situation that there is no possible hope of escape, you just might want to pray and ask God for the impossible. After all, nothing is too difficult for Him. Remember, Jesus became the escape for Christians from the eternal penalty of sin.

Something to think about.

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Verses 12-13: “So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.””

The Great Santini was a master magician, who regularly was thrilling audiences with his illusions and prestidigitation. He was also a man with dark secrets, who was not above murdering the blackmailing owner of the club he was performing at. To give himself an airtight alibi, he performed the murder during his great water-tank escape act…no one would suspect him, since he was in a locked trunk submerged in water in full view of the audience…or was he? The only person to suspect him, of course, was Lt. Columbo. “Now You See Him…” is one of my favorite Columbo episodes. Jack Cassidy plays Santini, an illusionist and magician par excellence, who audiences marveled at. Even the rumpled detective, played by Peter Falk, had to marvel at how Santini would perform his magic. However, he knew that it was illusion, and continued to pursue him to bring him to justice.

Folks can be like the players in this mystery. Some marvel at what seems impossible, wondering if it’s real magic. Others scoff at the trick, professing to know how it’s done. Others are left just plain wondering. The witnesses of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost are just such a crowd. Some knew of the disciples and marveled that they were speaking the gospel in different languages. Others just said, “Ah, they’re drunk!” Peter took that opportunity that God gave him to get up and address the crowd with a sermon that was God-inspired and struck right to the need they had for salvation and forgiveness.

Jesus is no illusion; He’s real!

More to come…

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