How far the Jews had fallen, spiritually speaking! In the beginning of the New Testament, they were eagerly expecting their Messiah (Lu.3:15). Here, they were eagerly expecting the execution of their Messiah’s chief apostle, Peter (v.11).
It’s significant that Peter went to Mark’s house (v.12). The Lord must have eaten the last supper with the 12 there, for Mark says He “cometh with the 12” (Mark14:17,18), i.e., cometh to his house. When they left, Mark must the one who woke up to investigate the noise of the Lord’s arrest in his bedsheet (Mark 14:26,51,52), for he’s the only one who records that story. His house was one of the few with an up-per room large enough for 13 men to sit at one table, so they observed Pentecost in that room as well (Acts 1:13,14). That is how Peter knew where his friends would gather to pray for him. It was the only place big enough to hold them all!
But there’s also a symbolic reason Peter went there. God was shutting down His kingdom program for Israel with the 12 apostles, and starting up His grace program for us with the Apostle Paul. We just saw the kingdom program go forward from the last supper, where it started at Mark’s house, through Pentecost at Mark’s house. Now, it’s starting to go backward, as Peter returned to Mark’s house.
What’s happening here is also symbolic of what God expected His kingdom saints to do now that their program was shutting down. The last supper was all about the cross, and God expected them to cling to the cross in the wake of the shutdown of their program. When your life begins to shut down, clinging to the cross is a good idea for you too.
Knocking at the door of Mark’s gate (Acts 12:13) is a type of Luke 13:23-25. That’s about an unsaved man knocking on the door of the kingdom, but getting turned away. Peter was saved, but was part of “the commonwealth of Israel.” That means when the unsaved nation rejected the kingdom, Peter shared their lot in common and was also turned away.
The disciples were shocked Peter was alive and free (Acts 12:15), showing they hadn’t been praying he’d be released from prison. They were praying his faith wouldn’t fail (cf. Lu.22:31). We know that’s what the Lord prays for us too (Ro.8: 34), for we don’t live in an age where God will deliver us from our troubles if we obey Him, as Israel did. Our apostle promises we must go through tribulations (Acts 14:22), as they did back then (IThes.3:4). Your faith is the only thing that will get you through them, so grow it (Rom.10:17).
They thought Peter’s “angel” was knocking at their door be-cause each Jew had his own angel who represented him in heaven (Mt.18:10)—and not just children. The Lord called His disciples “little children” (Jo.13:31). Jews would pray, and God would send an angel to answer—sometimes audibly (Dan.10:12). A Jew’s angel would report to God when he died. They thought Peter’s angel might be reporting to them because they represented God on earth (cf. Ex.4:10,11). It took Peter a while to get into Mark’s house (Acts 12:16), a type of how it will take him a while to get into the kingdom.
The “James” that Peter told them to tell he was free couldn’t have been the one killed in Acts 12:2. It was “James the Lord’s brother” (Gal.1:19). He didn’t believe on Him (Jo.7: 5) till after He rose from the dead, then became the leader of the 12 in Peter’s place. James calls Peter “Simeon” (Acts15: 13,14), the Hebrew form of Peter’s name “Simon,” which can mean wavering. Peter was a wavering man! He stopped wavering when filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:4), but started up again after He was withdrawn (Gal.2:11,12). The disciples needed an unwavering leader, so James took his place.
The name “Rhoda” (Acts 12:13) means rose. That’s why she was the doorkeeper of a house that represented the kingdom (cf. Isa.35:1,3,4). Aren’t God’s types amazing?
A video of this sermon is available on YouTube: “Peter Finally Wakes Up” Acts 12:11-17