A man says to Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul replies, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
It sounds like a simple theological discussion, happening over a mug of coffee in a Starbucks, between two people exploring ideas. But if that is how we picture it, we are missing the context. Important context.
The man who asked the question was holding a sword. Five minutes earlier he was ready to fall on it. Five minutes earlier he had been asleep.
He was the jailer in the Roman colony of Philippi. Jailers were responsible for the prisoners. If they escaped, so did his job. So did his life. There was no due process. There was no administrative leave followed by an early retirement.
This night there was an earthquake. It shook the whole prison. It broke the gates open. It released all the chains from the walls. The jailer woke up. He looked out. He saw the open gates. He assumed that prisoners would do what they want to do. Escape. He grabbed his sword.
And in the absolute silence that comes when time stands still before taking the step that changes everything, he heard a voice.
“Don’t kill yourself. We are all here.”
Impossible. At the moment when the only sound should be the echo of stumbling feet and muffled chains, this voice was close and clear and talking to him.
He called for lights. He ran to the gates, pausing only for a moment to see the wreckage. He found the speaker. He fell down in front of him, then got up and led them out.
“Sirs,” said the jailer to Paul and Silas. “What must I do to be saved?”
What did he owe them for his life?
[from Acts 16. to be continued]