Peter Freed from Prison
June 19& 26 and August 7 & August 14, 2005
Scripture: Acts 12:1-19
Memory Verse: “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.” Philippians 4:6 CEV
Objectives: The children will hear from “Peter” about his amazing escape from prison. As he talks, all of the above concepts will be mentioned. Discussion questions will reinforce some of the concepts.
Welcome and Introductions:
1. You will be reading the scripture passage using the attached version. Please practice reading this aloud several times before you teach. Practice will help you decide where to put the emphasis. You might want to mark words to emphasize.
the children that this story comes from the book of Acts (spelled A-C-T-S),
which is a book about what happens after Jesus dies and is risen and when the
Apostles are starting the church (of which we are a part) based on belief in
Jesus. This story takes place while
Peter is still living in
3. Before reading to the children, pray simply for everyone’s ears to hear what God is saying in this passage. Read the passage.
4. Since the skit today is closely based on the Bible story (almost repeats it), there are no discussion questions after the Bible story.
There is only one skit for the study of Peter Freed from Prison. It has one main character, Peter. This part should be performed by you or by any adult or high school youth that you can recruit. Try to get someone who enjoys this kind of activity, someone who will practice in advance. It can be performed as a puppet (find one that would be a believable Peter) or as a person interacting with puppets (a la Kukla, Fran and Ollie or Mr. Rogers and his puppets.) The children can have puppets to be part of a puppet audience.
After you have passed out puppets, have “Peter” perform the skit.
After the skit, you can reinforce the concepts by asking the children questions as Peter (or you can rewrite the questions to ask them as a workshop leader). Suggested “Peter” questions are:
· My friends’ prayers probably called the angel who freed me from prison, although God would not have sent the angel if it were not God’s will. Why do you think God likes us to pray? God wants us to turn to him for help. When we turn to him, we are saying that God is in control and we need God’s help. God likes that. God listens to our prayers and answers them according to God’s will.
· At the time I was in prison and then released, I was spending all my time organizing the church, ministering to the believers and trying to tell new people about Jesus. Do you think that had anything to do with why God answered the prayers to release me from prison in such an amazing and quick way? Hopefully, the children will say “yes.” When we are doing God’s work, of course God is going to help us. God loves everyone and wants everyone to know it. God wants everyone to know about the Son of God, Jesus, and how Jesus died so that our sins are forgiven. God will help anyone who is serving him by telling others about God and Jesus.
· When my friends in the church gathered to pray for me while I was in prison, that was not unusual. We were always gathering to pray for or take care of each other. That’s how I knew they’d all be at Mary’s house—we were always getting together there if someone needed help. Do you still do that today in your church? Try to get the children to discuss any kind of “ gathering to help” activity they have been involved in or have heard of, such as WIHN, taking a meal to someone, taking food to the Helen Wright center, meeting at the church to work on the grounds, parents in K groups, meeting in 3-4-5 Faith Alive to do things for other people…
You can also allow the children to ask Peter questions.
Have the children put their puppets back neatly.
Prayer: Close with a simple prayer. An appropriate prayer might be, “Thank you God for answering the prayers of Peter’s friends so long ago. Thank you for helping those who serve you. Thank you also for listening to us when we pray and answering our prayers however you know best. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Tidy and Dismissal: Ask the children to help clean up the journal supplies or anything else out of order.
Teacher preparation in advance:
1. Pray: Ask God to help you prepare for this lesson, whether it involves preparing to play Peter yourself or finding someone to play this role.
2. Read the scripture passage and attend the Faith Quest Leaders Bible Study. It will be very important for you to attend this study.
3. Prepare a closing prayer if you do not want to use the one included.
If Peter will be an adult, appropriate Peter clothes (optional)
Notes supplied by Lori Houck for curriculum writers' Bible study in February 2005
BIBLE STORY FROM THE CEV: Acts 12:1-19
Herod Causes Trouble for the Church
1At that time King Herod caused terrible suffering for some members of the church. 2He ordered soldiers to cut off the head of James, the brother of John. 3When Herod saw that this pleased the Jewish people, he had Peter arrested during the Festival of Thin Bread. 4He put Peter in jail and ordered four squads of soldiers to guard him. Herod planned to put him on trial in public after the festival. 5While Peter was being kept in jail, the church never stopped praying to God for him.
Peter Is Rescued
6The night before Peter was to be put on trial, he was asleep and bound by two chains. A soldier was guarding him on each side, and two other soldiers were guarding the entrance to the jail. 7Suddenly an angel from the Lord appeared, and light flashed around in the cell. The angel poked Peter in the side and woke him up. Then he said, "Quick! Get up!"
The chains fell off his hands, 8and the angel said, "Get dressed and put on your sandals." Peter did what he was told. Then the angel said, "Now put on your coat and follow me." 9Peter left with the angel, but he thought everything was only a dream. 10They went past the two groups of soldiers, and when they came to the iron gate to the city, it opened by itself. They went out and were going along the street, when all at once the angel disappeared.
11Peter now realized what had happened, and he said, "I am certain that the Lord sent his angel to rescue me from Herod and from everything the Jewish leaders planned to do to me." 12Then Peter went to the house of Mary the mother of John whose other name was Mark. Many of the Lord's followers had come together there and were praying.
13Peter knocked on the gate, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer. 14When she heard Peter's voice, she was too excited to open the gate. She ran back into the house and said that Peter was standing there.
15"You are crazy!" everyone told
her. But she kept saying that it was Peter. Then they said, "It must be
his angel." 16But Peter kept on knocking, until finally they
opened the gate. They saw him and were completely amazed. 17Peter
motioned for them to keep quiet. Then he told how the Lord had led him out of
jail. He also said, "Tell James [c] and
the others what has happened." After that, he left and went somewhere
else. 18The next morning the soldiers who had been on guard were
terribly worried and wondered what had happened to Peter. 19Herod
ordered his own soldiers to search for him, but they could not find him. Then
he questioned the guards and had them put to death. After this, Herod left
Judea to stay in
SKIT: PETER DISCUSSES HIS ESCAPE FROM PRISON
Your Faith Quest leaders have asked me to tell you about the night I was freed from prison. Here’s what happened. I was in Herod’s prison guarded by many strong and able soldiers. I had been praying constantly, asking for strength and guidance from God. I kept asking our Lord to keep me strong in my faith and at peace. I never wanted to deny Christ again. I think you have studied about how I said that I didn’t know Jesus after he was arrested? I was so scared that the same thing would happen to me that I denied I had been with him. But later I felt so terrible about that—I told myself I would never deny him again. I wanted to accept whatever was going to happen to me in prison peacefully and courageously.
Several people who were special to me had been killed. First, our Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins. Then, there was a wonderful disciple named Stephen. He was helping hand out food to make sure that widows and orphans received enough food. He was killed for telling people about Jesus and the saving power of his death. Herod’s soldiers killed James, who was another one of the Jesus’ Twelve Apostles like I was, a few days before I was put into prison. Herod had him killed to please people who were against Christians. People were always doing mean things to us who believed in Christ. There is something about Christ that divides people. His saving power is so easy to accept, but if you are proud and cannot accept it, it sometimes can make you hate anyone who can. But these friends and their deaths were on my mind as I was praying in prison.
I must have fallen asleep praying—I thought it would be impossible to sleep with chains on and guards on each side—but as I slept, I dreamed that someone struck my side and said, “Quick, get up.” In my dream, there was a light around the person speaking. He was glowing so that he must have been an angel from God.
At once, the chains fell off my wrists. The angel told me to dress and follow him. He led me past all the guards and through the city gate, which opened all by itself. The angel led me down one whole street and then disappeared.
Suddenly, I realized that this wasn’t a dream—it was really happening! So many emotions came over me—gratitude, amazement, joy and relief to name a few. I had to share the joy and news of my escape with my friends. I had to tell them what God had done! I stopped at Mary’s house (this was the mother of John Mark who later wrote the book of Mark.)
What happened here was almost as strange as what happened in prison. I knocked on the outer door and a servant named Rhoda came to the door and without opening the door, she asked who was there. I think the believers must have been afraid that Herod’s soldiers would come for them. When I told her it was I and she heard my voice, she must have been so excited that she ran back to tell the others without opening the door. I kept knocking and knocking and finally a whole crowd of friends whom I guess had gathered to pray for me came to open the door.
You would not believe how surprised they looked to see me. It was funny—they had spent hours praying for me, but when the angel released me from prison in answer to their prayers, they couldn’t quite believe it! They thought I was a ghost!
explained to them what had happened—just as I’ve told you. Then I asked them to tell James, not the one
who was killed but another James who was Jesus’ half brother. Even though James had grown up with Jesus, I
don’t think he really believed Jesus was the Son of God until after Jesus died
and was risen. Then James became a very
faithful believer. James was probably
the best person to take over my job of being head of the church in