Washing Others' Wounds
“After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks” Acts 16:23-24.
This particular time they were thrown in prison after being accused of ‘throwing the city in an uproar by advocating customs.’ Basically, they were sharing the message of Jesus Christ with others whom it offended. After their beatings and floggings they were thrown into the dark inner cell and placed in ‘foot cuffs.’ What did they do? They praised God in the storm. They did not gripe or complain…they did not focus on their wounds…they set their gaze upon Jesus remembering how He suffered for the message.
No doubt, they had to consider that the end was near, and they were moving closer to being with Christ…no wonder they were praying and singing songs of praise. The jailer had no compassion as he threw them in the cell with fresh wounds from the beatings. Seeing their condition, he added extra pain by placing their feet in stocks. Then he cut off the lights and was able to close his eyes and go to sleep. Last night I couldn’t even sleep after watching a basketball player break his foot on the court. How this jailer was able to shake the sight of these men is beyond me.
But then God sent ‘such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken…the prison doors flew open…everybody’s chains came loose’ (v. 26). The jailer awakened and realized that not only had the doors been opened but none of the prisoner’s had escaped. He immediately wanted to know the message of these men whom had a faith he desired. ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved (v. 30)? Upon the jailer’s conversion he took them back to his home and ‘washed their wounds and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his family’ (v.33).
One of the most beautiful lessons we learn from this story is that before we are filled with the love of God we don’t even notice the pain of others. We are disconnected from compassion as we sleep while others suffer. We minimize the present pain of a friend’s experience because we live in our past pain. We are so busy with our own lives, our own families and our own jobs that we don’t reach out to serve others. But once we turn our hearts to Christ Jesus He allows us to experience His compassion and His love, moving us to action. We cannot have the true love of Christ in our hearts and be inactive or blind to the needs of others. ‘We will be both judged and rewarded in Heaven on how we loved, gave and served on earth.’ (Charles Stanley)
When thinking about this statement our example is in Christ Jesus. Jesus loved the very ones who hated him. ('Father, forgive them.' Luke 23:34) Jesus gave His very life for everyone. ('With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.' John 19:30.) Jesus served wherever He was, making every step His mission field. ('My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.' John 5:17)
‘The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness’ 1 Sam. 26:23. ‘After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God’ Mark 16:19. I cannot think of a greater eternal reward than sitting next to God.
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