“Then he called for a light and sprang in and came trembling and fell down before Paul and Silas and brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved and your house’.”
We make it so difficult when, in reality, it’s so simple.
The Philippian jailer was scared. Most likely, he’d done that same job for many years. Day after day. Same place. Same position. Live-in-a-rut monotony. But, at least it was a job with a steady income. And, he wasn’t that far away from retirement.
But, in one fell swoop all that changed.
First, there were some prisoners there unlike any he’d ever had before. Never had there been prisoners, who’d had their clothes ripped off and been “beaten with many stripes” (v.23), start having a prayer-and-praise meeting in the prison’s maximum security cell. Never!
Yet, here they were. . .these two accused of “exceedingly troubling the city of Philippi by teaching unlawful customs and not observing proper Roman protocol” (vv.20-21). . .their feet securely (and tightly) held by stocks (v.24). . .sitting there in the dimly-lighted, damp, dirty, vermin-infested dungeon. . . “singing songs at midnight” (v.25a).
“Shut up!” some of the prisoners likely yelled.
“We’re trying to sleep!” another one chimed in.
But, the “dynamic duo” didn’t listen. Such is always the case when you’re Spirit-led and Spirit-anointed.
No, they continued. Singing loud enough that all the prisoners heard them (v.25b).
And, then it happened: An earthquake—maybe a magnitude of 6.5 on the Richter scale—rocked the prison (v.26). The nameless Philippian jailer heard the cell doors swing open in the darkness, their rusty hinges creaking loudly back-and-forth in the tremors.
And, immediately his heart jumped up into his throat.
“I’m a dead man!” he said to himself—for he knew if any of them escaped that the Roman authorities would charge him with dereliction of duty and kill him.
So, “he drew out his sword and was about to thrust it into his abdomen” (v.27) to escape the “inevitable”—i.e., until Paul “cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘Don’t hurt yourself; we’re all still present-and-accounted for’” (v.28).
No wonder he “called for a light, sprang in, came trembling, fell down before them and cried ‘What must I do to be saved’?!?” He knew their God was different than his Roman mythological gods. And, they were quick to answer “Only believe. Only believe. All things are possible. Only believe.” What a wonderful story! What a wonderful Savior! What beautiful simplicity! Go and tell someone else today how they, too, can come to know Jesus. Don’t worry about theology; just live with doxology and say “Only believe. Only believe.”
August 19, 2011