Basedon Acts 16
The prison warden watched the two prisoners cautiously.
Dried blood plastered the forehead of one them, the taller one named Silas. The other man—a short, bald headed man— had fresh purple bruises on his arms and neck. The men’s clothes had been torn by a mob, and it was clear from their wounds that they had been flogged.
The soldiers flung the two roughly into a jail cell and clamped the prisoners’ feet securely between heavy blocks of wood. The warden knew that having them in stocks would cause a severe strain on their sore backs.
The warden had heard so much about these two, especially the shorter man, Paul. People said the prisoners were causing trouble everywhere they went by sharing the Way of Yeshua. The warden thought, How could such a story be so alarming? The warden could see no hint of violence; no hint of pride; no hint of arrogance on the faces of these men. In fact, nothing in these prisoners looked like they were a threat to society.
But perhaps there was much more to their story than a mere tale of a man named Yeshua? Perhaps the Jewish tale of the Messiah had some truth?
The warden asked one of the Roman soldiers, “What did these men do?”
“Oh,” the soldier answered. “These men caused a riot. They have different laws since they are Jews. They have different customs, and they are forcing these on our people.”
“But aren’t our people receptive to new ideas? It’s the pride of Rome and Greece to listen to new ideas.”
The soldier smirked. “Not when the ideas are strong enough for a girl to lose her powers in sorcery!” The soldier proceeded to tell the warden of how the two men commanded an evil spirit out of the girl, causing her to lose her strange power. When this happened to her, she couldn’t earn profit for her owners because she couldn’t do what she was supposed to do.
The warden knew of this girl in the marketplace. It was the girl who always wore colorful robes and stared often into space. She certainly could predict the future, once telling the warden everything that would happen to him in one afternoon. Step by step, her predictions for him occurred without fail.
Yet powerful as predicting the future was, the warden always felt that the young sorceress was off. There was something wrong with her—like the power she had was eerie and mysterious; a power that could make him lose sleep. She would hiss at him whenever he walked by her in the market. Her voice would change into an awful growl when spoken to, and she wouldthrash uncontrollably, giving a hideous scream when provoked. The girl had a spirit from the pits of Hades, he thought, but if the evil spirit was now out of her, then wasn’t she now enjoying a measure of freedom?
Suddenly, the voices of the two prisoners rang loud and clear. They were singing a song he had never heard before. There was so much joy in them.
“Yeshua Ha Mashiach! We praise You!”
“Yeshua Ha Mashiach! We adore You!”
Your name is lifted high,
Above powers and all lofty things.
You are Most High!”
Goosebumps formed on the warden’s forearms. Yeshua Ha Mashiach? Was Yeshua the name of the Most Powerful One, the Jewish Messiah?
The singing continued. The warden shrugged his shoulders. Joy in the midst of pain. If only he had that kind of joy. It was nearing midnight. He ought to sleep. He was going to have a big day tomorrow.He closed his eyes.
EARTHQUAKE! EARTHQUAKE! The ground beneath him started to shake. It was a terrible shake, throwing the warden across the room. The walls started to creak, concrete and brick tumbling. Then what he dreaded most occurred: the doors of the prison cells flung open violently.
“Everyone! Stay in your cells!” the warden shouted.
At once, a man notorious for murder walked out of his cell. Another known for theft hurriedly scampered out, his arms all over his head to protect himself from falling debris.
The warden’s mouth was aghast. The prisoners were escaping! And who would the Romans blame?
The man shouted desperately. “Stay in your cells!”
The rumble grew louder in his ear. The shaking grew stronger. The cries of the prisoners were louder than his own pleas.
He knew what had to be done. The warden unsheathed the sword by his side. Kill the prisoners before they escaped? He thought quickly. And what about these two newprisoners? Did he even want to kill them? The prisoners who set an oppressed girl free? The joyful prisoners?
Where was justice in that? As a jail warden, he held justice as his highest personal value. He looked at the sword again. Perhaps he could drive the sword into his own chest and save his honor? Yes, a life for lives. Besides, weren’t murderers and thieves and other guilty individuals escaping from their cells unjustly?Who would answer for them? To kill himself with honor—this was the best option.It was horrific, but he felt it was right.
As he was about to thrust the blade into his chest, a voice rang in the tumult.
“Stop! Don’t do it! We’re all here!” the shorter of the two prisoners, Paul, called out.
Trembling, the jailer rushed toward Paul and Silas and knelt. Right beside them, the murderer who had earlier walked out of his cell was still there. The thief who had scampered was there, too, sitting right beside the murderer.
There was something really strange about everything. He wanted to know more. The warden knew that if he died in the earthquake, he would probably be in Hades. And what was this joy that the two prisoners had?
“Men, what must I do to be saved?” he asked Paul and Silas.
Paul smiled and answered, “Trust in the Lord Yeshua, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
The jailer replied, “Let me hear more. And come, allow me to wash your wounds.”
* * * * *
There are people who watch us like the jailer; people who may have heard of us. Are we ready to tell them who Jesus is? Let’s be ready!
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.