Rhoda by Robin Densmore Fuson (Acts 12:13-15)
The house always seemed full
of people. Servants scurried around to answer the door, wash feet, hang up
cloaks, carry dishes to the guests, and refill goblets. Until the last candle
got blown out, all hands need to be ready to fulfill everyone’s whim.
the life of a servant in the house of Mistress Mary. She and her son, Mark had
many friends and she entertained them all. Well, at least the prayer warriors,
the real pious zealots for Christ. You know, the one who had been crucified?
Rhoda hadn’t been there but she heard the account. Thinking about Jesus’
excruciating death made her skin crawl and rolled her stomach.
her mistress called all the servants in for instructions. Rhoda heard the buzz
of speculative whispers as she joined the other servants.
special guest will visit later today. Everything must be in order before he
arrives. He brings words of Truth. As a gift, I want you all to listen to his
teaching. Therefore, you all need to get your work finished and all the food
and preparation complete. A light supper will be served and then he will share
his news with all of us. Your normal duties are expected. Bring out more
washing bowls for the guests when they arrive. Oh, and towels.” She placed her
hand on her chin. “Well, I leave you to remember everything. I’m off to the
kitchen to give a word to the cooks.” She tilted her head and scanned out
faces. “Haste, yet, propriety.” She smiled. “I’m so excited.” She turned to
leave and stopped. “His name is Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples.” Her grin
broadened and she swept out of the room.
had heard of him. He indeed knew the one called Christ, one of his close
friends. Maybe he will make sense of all she had heard regarding Jesus the
Christ. Messiah had come, they say. She raised her eyebrow. Her heart longed for
it to be true but why didn’t He conquer the Romans? Instead, everyone lived in
fear of the brutes.
they did. Her first task required water pots. She, Deborah, and Eunice carried
large earthenware to the well in the town square and returned five times. Many
pots were needed by the household and for the guests.
finished sweeping the house. She beat the dust out of dozens of cushions,
handing each one to Deborah to place around the room for the guests to recline.
only had time to grab a piece of flat bread on her way to her post at the gate.
She didn’t mind this job. Rhoda loved the outdoors. A bench sat under a fig
tree where she waited to hear guests arrive and listened to the rumblings of
what went on inside the house.
the last thirty minutes, Rhoda repeatedly opened the gate for many groups of
people. A lull in the activity allowed her to sit in the shade.
knock resounded and she hurried to open the gate. “Yes?” A man who appeared to
be accustomed to manual labor smiled at her. “I’m Peter. Mary and Mark are
in. I’ll show you to the wash area where you can freshen up from your travels.”
you. What is your name?”
She smiled back.
are you on this fine day?”
well.” She dipped her head. He seemed nice. Most didn’t take the time to ask
about her. Rhoda led him into the inner chamber. “Deborah, Peter has arrived.”
started to return when she heard Peter say, “Thank you Rhoda.”
he acted as if he didn’t know she was a common servant. She nodded and went out
but his voice carried to her. “So you are Deborah, pleased to meet you.”
Rhoda wanted to linger but other guests should
here soon. She kept an ear out for the conversation she left as she went to her
post by the gate.
came until finally, Rhoda slipped into the back of the room to listen to Peter.
She divided her attention to the gate and words from the special guest.
he said made sense of everything she had heard. He told about Jesus’s life and
His death and the reason He died.
could He choose to die for her? Rhoda’s heart leaped to think God loved her
enough to send His only son. Unbidden, a tear slid down her cheek.
soon, the meeting disbanded and she helped guests gather their stuff for
departure. Peter sat with Mark as Rhoda escorted people to the gate, latching
it after each departure. Back inside, her mistress announced, “Our guest will
be staying a few days.” This guest, Rhoda wanted to stay as long as possible.
She desired to learn more.
next morning as they broke their fast, Peter spoke to the servants. Never
before had a guest done such a thing. He answered their questions. She raised
her voice. “If I may, why didn’t He come to conquer? You talk of Him being meek
and kind. How can He be the Messiah?”
you asked a very important question. He came to save us, not start a war. He
didn’t come to overthrow the government but to save our souls from damnation
and separation from Him for all eternity. Only a perfect, kind, just, God would
worry about our eternity. Yes, our lives are difficult but He can get us
through those trials if we walk with Him. Trusting Jesus as the Christ and the
only payment for our sin, we come into harmony with God the Father. Do you want
to make that decision?”
nodded, dropped to her knees, and bowed her head. Her sweet whispered words
floated to heaven. “Father thank you for sending the Messiah to die instead of
conquer. Thank You for His death and for my pardon. I trust You with my whole
being and want to live and if needed, die for You. Thank You Jesus for dying
for my sin.”
warm joyfulness flooded her soul. She looked up to see tears in the eyes of
Mary her Mistress. Never had she seen such compassion and love flow out of
those brown eyes.
she had witnessed gentle words coming from her mistress. Her mistress had
always been just and fair but she felt a change had occurred. Come to think
about it, the whole house resounded with glad voices and praises came easily.
the day, they sat and learned from Peter but then, James got killed. News
traveled fast like fire through the lowlands. Rhoda answered the knock at the
gate of a follower, Nathaniel, who told the terrible news. James, the brother
of John, was killed by the sword from a verdict sent down from King Herold.
grabbed his cloak and went with Nathanial to comfort other households of
another messenger arrived and declared another dreadful event. They
arrested Peter. In the morning, Herod had scheduled his execution. Rhoda’s
heart fell. Not Peter!
time, she opened the gate to followers for a secret prayer meeting. Herod was
out to kill all Christ-followers now called Christians. The Jewish leaders had
called for the extermination of all who followed Christ as the Messiah. Herod
did their bidding. Peter would be next.
house filled to the max with people using hushed voices pleading for Peter’s
life to the Father in Heaven. All night they prayed. Rhoda joined in but didn’t
leave her post near the entrance. People came and went silently through the
gate. Sleep would not be for anyone in the house. Peter’s life hung by a
thread. Heaven heard the prayers of the people as they begged the Lord Jehovah
to save their friend and teacher of Christ.
taps indicated another for Rhoda to let in.
went. “Who is there?”
A chill ran down her spine. Peter? Glory to God. Overjoyed, Rhoda ran into the
house. “Peter is outside the gate!”
lost your mind. He’s in jail.”
tell you it is He!”
rap caused a hush to descend through the house. Finally, they all went to see
if it was indeed Peter.
unlatched the gate and Peter slipped inside. They all talked at once. Peter
motioned for silence. He whispered, “Come inside and I will tell you how I came
to be here.”
sat close as they gathered around. Peter spoke in low tones. “They chained me
between two guards and posted two guards at the door. The Lord knew my plight
but trusting Him, I slept. I felt a thump on my side. A brightly adorned angel
stood next to me. “Arise quickly.”
stood and the chains fell off.
your sandals fastened and put on your cloak. And follow me.”
did as he bid and we went through the door and passed both guarded posts without
incident. I thought I dreamed it as I followed him to the gate of the city and
we easily went through. Right after, he disappeared. I stood there, rubbing my
eyes. Surely all this had happened. God sent His angel to release me from
prison and death. I came straight here to tell you and to urge you to tell the
others but I must leave immediately.”
been praying for your release. Praise Jehovah!”
ran to the kitchen and packed a sheepskin bag full of provisions. She hurried
back and thrust it into Peter’s hands. “The Lord be with you.”
you, Rhoda. Thank you all for your warm hospitality and your prayers. Remember
me to the Lord as I do on your behalf.”
walked him to the gate and he slipped out into the night.
uses anyone for His work from a student to a CEO of a company.
lowly servant, Rhoda who only had a cameo in a few verses, God named in the
Bible. He could have inspired the writer of Acts to say, “Peter knocked at the
gate and a servant answered.” A no named female ran in to tell them that Peter
stood outside the gate. Instead, there is Rhoda. Not mentioned anywhere else in
scripture but still important. The job, position, occupation, or calling the
Lord has directed you to do is important because you are important to the Lord.
You may be a speaker to thousands or a prayer warrior. You may be an evangelist
or an encourager. You may wrestle with toddlers or homeschool. A janitor or
pastor. Whatever the Lord has called you to do—do it with gusto.
excitement of Peter outside the gate caused her to run straight back in to tell
the others that God heard and answered their prayer. Do we believe God hears
and answers our prayers? Even miraculous ones? He answers every, single, day,
for all people, who pray. He brings about miracles even when we don’t ask. He
answers yes, not yet, or no. There is always an answer. Trust Him.