Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Death and Resurrection in Acts 12

There is a great deal of death and resurrection imagery (evoking the Passion of Christ) in Acts 12. If you're not familiar, this is the story of Peter's imprisonment under Herod and subsequent angelic escape. Here's some of the images I noticed. Some are tenuous, and some are very clear. In chronological order:

  • James is put death by the sword before Peter is arrested. This is reminiscent of John the Baptist, especially since it's a Herod doing the executing both times.

  • The arrest takes place at the time of the Passover.

  • Peter is thrown into a dungeon, which was probably underground. This reminds one of the cave Jesus was laid in. Also, a guard of soldiers was set outside.

  • An angel is present. In this story, it is to rescue Peter. In the Passion story, it is to notify the disciples about the Resurrection.

  • That angel strikes Peter in the side. Jesus was struck in the side as well.

  • After Peter escapes, the first person he meets is a woman. There is confusion as to his identity, and whether or not he is actually alive.

So I think there's connections enough to make me think that Luke is trying to evoke Jesus' Passion in describing this episode. Why? Here are some thoughts/applications:

  1. Peter practically disappears from the story of Acts at this point. After a cursory search, I was not able to find any references to Peter in the rest of the book. The narrative immediately switches to Paul as the main character, and even omits references to Peter when you think it most likely (the first Church Council in Acts 15). This reminds us then of the Ascension of Christ, when he removes Himself bodily from the actions of His Church, sending instead His Spirit. Also, as He ascends into Heaven, the mission of the Church switches from being based in Israel alone and goes to the ends of the earth. This occurs immediately after in Acts 13 with the first Gentile mission.

  2. The tyrant that sought to put Peter to death winds up dying himself. So it was with Christ, as Satan sought to put the Son of God to death, but wound up having his head crushed in the process. The death of the saints is very powerful. Another way to say this is that the wicked will fall in the pit that they have dug for the righteous (Psalm 35).

  3. Peter's death and resurrection results in the preaching of the word of God. It continues to grow and is multiplied (12:24). The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.

No comments:

Post a Comment