Got a conundrum for you to ponder this morning.
Acts 12 is that familiar, if not somewhat hilarious, episode of Peter's miraculous release from prison. Sent there by Herod Agrippa, Peter is given flight from his incarceration through the intervention of God via an angel.
The disciples, you remember, were meeting in the home of Mary holding a prayer vigil for Peter, his safety, and the well-bring of the church. Upon his release, Peter makes a bee-line for the home, raps on the door, and....waits.
Rhoda, a servant girl, comes to the door and discovers that the one knocking is Peter. Stunned, she doesn't bother to invite him in but rushes back to the others, interrupts the prayer vigil to tell them their prayers had been answered! Peter was free!
You remember how those fervently praying disciples responded to her claim, don't you? They thought she was crazy. "You've seen his ghost," they claimed.
But once Peter finally entered the room, the disciples realize that God had indeed answered their prayer. God had intervened and come to the aid of his people.
Now here's the conundrum: in verse two, the text says that Herod had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword -- the first martyr of Jesus' original inner circle of twelve.
Why was Peter miraculously released but James was killed? Don't you think the disciples who prayed fervently for Peter's release did also for James's release? What do you make of the seemingly random turn-of-events in the martyrdom of James and the miraculous prison release of Peter?