24 But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied.
25 And Barnabas and Saul returned [l]from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their [m]mission, taking along with them John, who was also called Mark.
From the beginning of Chapter 12 you might have felt discouraged that, yet again, a servant of the LORD's is put in prison and awaiting execution. It is natural to feel this way. This isn't any different from how we react to news that is discouraging in our world today. How to we stay hopeful in days like these? My experience tells me that it is good to pan back and see the bigger picture.
I have described a couple times now that Luke's letter is complete with summary statements. In this text we see another one: But the word of the LORD continued to grow and to be multiplied (vs. 24; see Luke's other summary statements - 6:7; 9:31; 16:5; 19:20; 28:31). There is a powerful word in this sentence - but.
When all else seems to be falling away, when people are dying all around us, when there are wars and rumours of wards, we can depend on the 'but of the LORD'. The truth is, there is a greater work being accomplished in our world today. Yes, it seems to be getting worse and worse, but this draws my attention all the more to how the LORD is drawing more and more to Himself. You see, at the beginning of this chapter, we see Peter being held in prison by guards. Not exactly the most hopeful circumstance. By the sheer number of guards that were around him, Herod was making very sure that he not escape. But what the LORD had in store, no one, no thing, could bind! We see a complete flip over come the end of this chapter. Peter was released and Herod was the one who died. This is how the LORD works. He works in our lives, for His purposes, for His Glory.
This was a relatively small effort. Just a few men in Jerusalem that were willing to suffer for the sake of Christ. It's incredible to see, even at this point in the Book of Acts, what has already taken place, but Luke reminds us that the LORD has been a part of it - the word of the LORD continued to grow. Despite discouragement, even death, the Word of the LORD spreads. But please do not miss how it grows - by people praying.
Wiersbe sites in his commentary Dr. Alan Redpath who would often say, “Let’s keep our chins up and our knees down— we’re on the victory side!” Amen! When it seems that the world is crumbling and our lives are at stake, we must look up - we are on the victory side!