“When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here…Then he (the jailor) brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’” Acts 16:27-30
This is amazing! One moment a jailor is cruelly treating Paul and Silas by placing their feet in stocks in a Philippian jail and the next we find the same jailor at the point of personal desperation and asking, ”What must I do to be saved?” What happened?
One thing is for sure. Had Paul and Silas not been willing to “take up their cross and follow Jesus” (Luke 9:23) none of this would have happened. They were in Philippi sharing their faith with whoever would listen. Paul would eventually cast a demon from a slave woman who made money for her masters by fortune telling. This angered the owners who then provoked a crowd to turn on Paul and Silas. They were slandered, beat up, and then thrown into prison.
Their “fishing for men” had resulted in imprisonment. It wasn’t fair. They didn’t deserve this. They could have pouted and complained about their circumstances but instead saw what happened as another opportunity to glorify God through their suffering (see Phil 3:10 – “fellowship of suffering).
The next thing we know, it’s midnight. Paul and Silas are praying and singing hymns to God. That’s when the earthquake hit and bust open all the prison doors and stocks. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse.
The jailor then awoke from a deep sleep to find the doors of the prison open. He just knew that all the prisoners had escaped and that he would be personally punished for it. So he draws his sword and plans to kill himself rather than face the impending torture and punishment awaiting him. That’s when Paul shouted out to stop and told him that all the prisoners were still in place.
The jailor was so surprised and knew immediately that these “fishers of men” were very different. He wanted whatever it was they had. So he asked, “What must I do to be saved?”
Did you notice how Paul and Silas continuously denied themselves in order to be used of God as “fishers of men?” Personal comfort and convenience never entered their minds. They were committed to doing whatever it took to get the word out about Jesus…even if it cost them personally and painfully. Why would they put up with so much? Because they knew that everyone needs Jesus. They never forgot how lost they used to be and how much they used to fight against it.
A “fisher of men” is not guaranteed an easy or a pain-free life. A “fisher of men” keeps fishing for men because he never forgets the desperate need of men for a Savior. A “fisher of men” is always grateful and remembers that he is forgiven only because another “fisher of men” did whatever it took to tell him about Jesus.
Never forget that Jesus said that those who follow Him will be required to “take up their cross and follow Him.”