When Jesus Wants a Jailer

“They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. And they said, ‘These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city.’ The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. He put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. 

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,  and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds… Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.” Acts 16:19-20,22-34

When Jesus wants to save, He arranges divine appointments to accomplish His mission. Often we have the privilege of being a part. Paul and Silas, always ‘on’ for their Master, were so caught up in the Lord and His pursuits that being bloodied and locked in stocks could not deter them from rejoicing. Even when it seemed their assignment to preach had been aborted, their great Redeemer caused their prayer and song to fall on the ears of every prisoner and shake open their jail cells. The quaking jailer recognized the supernatural power, asked how to preserve his life, and by God’s grace believed the gospel. The one assigned to keep safe was saved, the real captive freed forever.


Imagine the joy Paul and Silas experienced at welcoming this jailer and his family into the Spirit’s fellowship, and knowing that Jesus had used their persecution for holy purposes. Their temporary imprisonment had been used to introduce eternal life.

When we are in hard places, painful captivity to disease, challenging circumstances beyond our control, or relationships at impossible impasses, might the Lord use us there to be a light of hope for another? If we would choose to accept every situation as His divine appointment, how would our outlook change? Might we take opportunity to sing, to pray for and with His perspective, to offer true freedom from the places we feel trapped?

Sovereign Lord, teach me to see my circumstances as those prescribed by You for Your broad and high purposes. Keep me singing, and offering life wherever I am.

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