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Weighing the Odds

Acts 12:18-19 

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"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." (NIV)

 The odds were 16 to 1.  Sixteen guards were watching one prisoner.  Two of them had a closer view than the others, they were chained to his side.  So what are the odds that the guards would be executed and the prisoner would be free the next day?  Next to impossible I'd say.

 But the impossible sometimes happens, even when the odds are overwhelming.  Take the events of this past week for example.  Overwhelming seems too weak a word for the odds the Red Sox faced.  For one, the Boston Red Sox were playing against the 26-time World Champion New York Yankees.  That in itself is daunting, but the odds of coming back in a best of seven series after losing the first three games were insurmountable.  Before the 2004 postseason, there have been 100 Major League Baseball postseasons.  In 100 years there have been 136 best of seven playoffs, none of them were won by a team that lost the first three games. 

 Games four and five were extra-inning slugfests, won in heroic fashion by the Bo Sox.  Red Sox Manager Terry Francona sent Curt Schilling to the mound for game six with sutured tendons in his ankle.  Throughout the game his sock became redder as he bled from his injury.  Could the team win with a gimpy pitcher on the mound and a bull pen that was worn-out  from the last two extra-inning games?   Schilling, the 21-game winner from Anchorage, Alaska pitched a brilliant game, which forced a game seven on the big stage at Yankee Stadium. 

 In game seven, Francona gave the ball to Derek Lowe on two days rest, less than half the time a pitcher usually has.  But you couldn't tell it by the way the hurled the ball.  Lowe kept the Yankees to only one run in six innings and set the stage for a 10-3 victory, propelling the Red Sox into the World Series.  If they win, it will be their first world championship since 1918.

 The impossible sometimes happens, even when the odds are overwhelming.  Peter laid asleep on the cold stone floor of the prison cell, chained to two guards with another fourteen guards on duty to see that Peter didn't escape.  King Herod was cruelly attacking the church a new wave of persecution had begun.  To the Jews' delight, Herod had already killed James, John's brother and was ready to do the same to Peter the next morning.

 An impossible situation.  From every appearance, Peter was doomed.  One at a time, Satan was picking off the leadership of the young church Stephen was gone, so was James and now it was Peter's turn.

 Or so it appeared.  In John 21:18 Jesus said to Peter "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." (NASB) According to verse 19, Jesus told Peter this so he'd know how he would die and that his death would bring glory to God.  Yes, Peter would die as a martyr and his death would bring glory to God, but it would happen when Peter was old, not while he was still a young man.

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