I’m a jailer. It’s not the most glamorous occupation in the world, granted, but it’s a job. It puts food on the table and a roof over our heads. I have one job-keep the criminals from escaping. If I do lose any prisoners, I can kiss my own life goodbye. I was set on keeping my perfect record, that is, until one day when a couple of guys came my way. This is my story.
That particular morning, I bid the wife and kids goodbye and went to work. It was a day just like any other. My house is connected to the jail, so I didn’t have far to go.
Throughout the day, I received a few prisoners, but nothing out of the ordinary until these two badly beaten men were dragged into my jail in the afternoon. They had been the cause of a big stir in the city and the people were chasing them with clubs all the way to the jail. It was really something. These guys must have been the worst kind of criminals because the officials told me to “guard them carefully.” The best place for me to do that was to put them in the “inner” part of the jail with stocks on their feet – which I did immediately. I never ask their names or the nature of their crimes. I just do my job and keep them at arm’s length. I’ve found that it’s easier if I don’t see them as human beings because honestly, none of them will leave my jail alive. In all my years as a jailer, I can’t say that I’ve seen any of them released back into Roman society, and especially not those who go down to the dungeon.
I held my breath as I secured the two men in the stocks. I always feel a little nauseous when I have to go down to that part of the jail. With the filth and stench, hopelessness and darkness, some people have described it as a kind of hell. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but for some reason, I felt bad for these two guys. They were bleeding and badly injured, but they didn’t yell obscenities and they didn’t fight me. They actually cooperated with me and made my job easier.
Finally, having secured the prisoners, I locked up and left for the night. It had been a long day, and I looked forward to going to bed and getting a good night’s rest.
Around midnight, my family and I were abruptly awakened by a loud, crashing noise. The ground below us was rumbling, and we could hear clanging and banging sounds coming from the jail. This can’t be good, I thought to myself. I got up in a panic, got my sword and ran to the jail not knowing what to expect.
What I found was a devastating sight. An earthquake had shaken the very foundation of the jail and all of the prison doors were open and everyone’s chains had been unfastened! In a split second, I assessed the situation. Assuming all of the prisoners had escaped, I concluded that I had only one option-I had to kill myself. Just as I raised my sword to do just that, someone shouted, “Don’t hurt yourself! We are all here!” Wait, what? I thought to myself. How is this happening? Then I saw those two guys that had come into the jail the day before, the blood had dried on their faces, but they looked like angels. The next thing I knew, I was running towards them. I fell at their feet and yelled, “Sirs, what should I do to be saved?” As calm as could be, one of them said, “Believe in Jesus and you will be saved; not only you but your whole household as well.”
Just seconds before I had been at death’s door, but now I was overwhelmed with an abundance of hope. A light that I can’t describe overtook me and I believed in Jesus! They told me their names were Paul and Silas, and they proceeded to help me lock down the jail once again.
I was so grateful for their help that I took them over to my house to get them cleaned up. Personally, I felt like a new man-as if my slate had been wiped clean. As my wife and I dressed their wounds, they told my family (including the kids) the good news of Jesus, and my whole household believed. But wait, there’s more! We were all baptized, had dinner together, and then we talked until daylight.
By the way, Paul and Silas were released from jail just a few hours later that day. It was truly amazing.
As I reflect upon the events of the past few days, I can’t help but be thankful to Jesus for saving my life. I’m just getting to know Him, but God seems to be able to make a way where there is absolutely no way. If I could share some advice from my experience, I would say, “In your crisis, call out to Jesus. He is the Light that is waiting to break through your blackest night. Just hold on…your midnight rescue could be right around the corner.”
(You can find the whole story in Acts 16:16-40)
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