Maybe (or maybe not).
Peter had been thrown into prison and the tension in the house was palpable. Rhoda could taste it, almost, as she completed her work. Her mistress, Mary, and her master, Mary’s son John Mark, were followers of The Way. They, like Peter, believed that the carpenter from Nazareth, Jesus ben Joseph, was the Messiah of Israel. He had been promised for so many long years and now He had come and gone. Rhoda smiled as she stirred the soup that bubbled over the fire. He had promised to come again.
The aroma that bubbled and rose from the pot in a cloud of steam was delicious. Rhoda’s stomach growled with hunger. Her attention was caught, again, by the whispers of Mary and John Mark and the others.
Peter had been thrown into prison. He was supposed to appear before Herod the next day. What would Peter do and what would Herod do?
“We must pray,” John Mark said. “We must pray for Peter.”
And so they and the rest of the followers prayed. Others came. The house was crowded and Rhoda was kept busy bringing water and towels for the guests to wash their feet and, later, carrying bowls of soup and bread to the men and women who cared so deeply for Peter and each other. The atmosphere was tense, but calm, heavy with the prayers of the followers. Sometimes their voices rose in united cries for mercy and sometimes they hushed into fervent whispers.
Rhoda was sleepy and ready for sleep on her pallet bed when there was a knock on the gate. The followers paused and looked at each other. It was late, after midnight, so a knock at the door meant trouble. Rhoda’s heart beat hard and fast as she went to answer.
Cautiously, pausing in the safety of her side of the gate, Rhoda asked, “Who is there at this hour?”
“It is I,” a voice said. “I …”
Rhoda’s gasped and exclaimed, “Peter?” She knew his deep, warm voice. Peter, who she and the others thought was in prison, was standing at the gate. She didn’t know or care why. In a flutter of excitement she ran into the house and blurted to the followers, “It is Peter!”
The followers were sympathetic, but amused and disbelieving.
“Rhoda, you’re imagining things,” Mary said. “We’re all upset about Peter, but …”
“But it’s him outside!” Rhoda insisted.
“Maybe it’s his angel,” someone suggested.
“It can’t be Peter,” someone insisted. “He’s in prison and bound with chains!”
Rhoda looked at the followers in amazement and frustration. Why was it so hard for them to believe that Peter was free and waiting to be welcomed into the house?
John Mark stood and said, “I’ll go.”
Rhoda followed in his shadow with Mary. Peter was still knocking on the gate. Rhoda held her breath as John Mark opened the gate. She saw his look of amazement and heard his exclamation of relief and joy. She breathed a long, happy sigh as Peter was drawn into the safety and warmth of the house.
“I have a story to tell,” Peter said. He smiled at the followers. “I was asleep when …”
Read Peter’s story in Acts 12:6-11
I love the fact that a servant girl called Rhoda had no trouble believing that Peter, who was about to be tried by Herod, was free from prison.
I like to think that she knew her God (and Peter’s God) and remembered that He was the same God who gave a baby to an old woman called Sarah, who parted the Red Sea for Moses and the people of Israel, who called a shepherd boy called David to be king.
Rhoda had the simple faith that accepted that God can always do impossible, wonderful things. I want to be like Rhoda. I want to believe that nothing is too impossible (or too hard) or too wonderful for Him.
And when a miracle arrives at my gate, well, I want to believe.