18 In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. 19 After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed. (Acts 12:18)
It is a sidelight of history that Peter’s guards were executed because he got away from prison. It was no sidelight to the guards. They were blamed for something beyond their control. Their explanation of angels and lights only made them look foolish and culpable.
We must remember. Those were hard times. This was the way Tyrants ruled. They ruled by fear. They also did not make any allowances for mercy.
Things have not changed that much. They would be similar to ancient times in our democracies if there were not more reliable voice for restraint. Even in our culture many a contemporary leader is thrown “under the bus” by political figures who some scapegoat to take the blame for their failures or even speaking the truth. Powerful people do not want to look bad. Thus they trash others and try to hide the trashing.
Peter lived. Others died. But look at it this way. Because Peter lived the gospel of Christ, the good news, was spread and many have eternal security would never have had it. This is the picture we must see.
The secularized culture knows only power, cruelty and selfishness. It is never ruled by kindness, restoration, reformation or healing. Secularists may express those virtues but that is because they use them to advance their own agendas. When tyrants or the godless look bad they do bad things.
The advancement of the gospel throughout the world has been by the blood of the witnesses of Christ. It has also been by the judgments made by godless leaders on their own. There is no honor among thieves unless such honor is reinforced by fear. Those in Christ, however, thrive even more in such cultures because they learn to that they can depend even more upon Christ than they do. God is always able then to turn things to his greater purpose.