*A Jailer is Set Free – Acts 16:25-34*
*25* About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, *26* and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken.
And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.
*27* 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.
*28* But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”
*29* And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas.
*30* Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
*31* And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
*32* And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
*33* And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.
*34* Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them.
And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
*Illustration - **Charlemagne Forces Baptism*
History buffs may recall a king named Charlemagne, who was king of the Franks in the latter 8th century until his death in 814 AD.
During his life he expanded the Frankish kingdoms into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe.
At Mass, on Christmas Day in 800 AD, when Charlemagne knelt at the altar to pray in Saint Peter's Basilica, Pope Leo III crowned him Emperor of the Romans.
While this event was remarkable, Charlemagne performed some horrible acts.
He campaigned against one group called the Saxons and forced them to convert to Christianity.
Charlemagne even decreed the death penalty for all Saxons who failed to be baptized.
During the Massacre of Verden, he allegedly ordered the execution of 4,500 Saxons who had been caught practicing their native paganism after converting to Christianity.
Aside from all that Charlemagne accomplished in uniting Europe, it was deplorable to force those he conquered to become Christians.
Thousands of Saxons were made to profess a faith in Christ, but naturally it did them little good for they did not know what they were pledging and they had no desire to accept it.
One cannot be forced into salvation.
One must realize his~/her spiritual need and willingly accept salvation.
Our passage this morning is about one such person who did realize his spiritual need and sought an answer for it.
Our passage occurs in the city of Philippi which is between modern day Greece and Turkey.
The area round Philippi often experiences earthquakes and tremors, but the one we read earlier happened at just the right time.
The prison doors probably were locked by bars that flew up and the doors opened.
Everyone’s chains came loose.
The chains may have been attached to the walls and wrenched loose by the violence of the quake. However it happened, we know from the text that the doors of the prison were opened and everyone’s bonds were loosened.
The prisoners were freed!
This was a serious situation.
The jailer thought that the prisoners had escaped.
And why wouldn’t he believe this.
*Who would want to remain in prison when an escape is available?*
Would any one of us be surprised to hear that the prisoners at the Franklin Correctional Center had escaped if something similar had happened?
We would probably expect that to happen.
And so did the Philippian jailer.
He thought a real prison escape had happened.
Supposing that the prisoners had already escaped, he drew his sword to kill himself, preferring death by his own hand than by Roman justice.
This is because, during Roman times, jailers and guards were personally responsible for their prisoners and in some instances were executed for allowing them to escape.
You may recall Peter’s escape from prison, when an angel rescued him…
Acts 12:18-19 *18*…[*Luke phrase*] there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter.
*19* And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the [guards] and ordered that they should be put to death.
But in the Philippian jail, the prisoners had not escaped.
Perhaps this is just as miraculous as the earthquake itself, that the prisoners remained in the prison.
Why would they do that?
* Perhaps it was Paul and Silas’ singing.
* Perhaps the prisoners saw something in Paul and Silas that they admired.
* It may have been strange to them for prisoners to sing in prison
* Perhaps the prisoners had accepted Jesus as their savior.
* They may have not been imprisoned…in the spiritual sense.
We don’t know…but the fact is, they all remained in the prison when an escape was present.
Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”
There was no need for the jailer to fear death…at least not from the Roman authorities.
When he heard this, the jailer rushed in, and trembling with fear he *fell down* before Paul and Silas.
Imagine the jailer /falling down at their feet/, as if in reverence or fear.
This is the same word used in…
Mark 3:11 *11* And whenever the unclean spirits saw [Jesus], they *fell down* before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”
Well, I am not suggesting the jailer saw Paul as the Son of God, but he did recognize a need in his life.
We know this by the question he asks them.
He asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?”
Who would want to remain in prison when an escape is available?
The question he asked was no ordinary question.
It was important.
It had great significance.
And it was a question that demanded an answer.
But what does the word “saved” mean?
I know most if not all of us know what the word “saved” means, but it is one of those words that has several meanings throughout Scripture.
It is also one of those words which people outside of the Church, or those new to the faith, may not understand.
Is it the same as saying, “I have saved some money?”
Or, is it the same as saying, “I have saved some leftovers in the fridge?”
No and No!
The word “saved” can mean /to preserve from harm, to rescue/; or /to deliver/.
Acts 27:20 “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, [*Luke phrase*] and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our */being saved/* was at last abandoned.”
In relation to a threatening situation, it can mean /to bring out safely/.
John 12:27 (*The Son Must Be Lifted Up*)* *Jesus said,* 27* “Now is my soul troubled.
And what shall I say?
‘Father, *save me* from this hour’?”
In relation to sickness and disease, it can mean /to/ /heal, to cure, /or/ to restore to health/.
Matthew 9:21-22 (*The woman with the issue of blood*) *21* for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be /made well/.”
*22* Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has /made you well/.”
And instantly the woman was /made well/.
In all three instances of the words “made well”, it is the same word we get “saved”.
However, there is a fourth meaning.
In relation to spiritual dangers and threat of eternal death, it means /to rescue from sin/.
Ephesians 2:8-9 *8* For by grace you have been *saved* through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, *9* not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
It has been often argued that the Phillipian jailer’s question (“What must I do to be saved?”)
was intended in the secular sense of the word “salvation,” that he was asking how his life should be spared.
But his life had already been spared.
None of the prisoners had escaped.
There was no danger any more.
More likely he asked about his salvation in the full spiritual sense...to be rescued from sin.
This was truly an important question, and the jailer believed Paul and Silas knew the answer.
The answer to the most important question anyone could ask…What must I do to be saved?
Again I ask, who would want to remain in prison when an escape is available?
But, why would the jailer believe that Paul and Silas could provide that answer?
What led him to ask them this important question?