He was going to take his life. Why not? When the Roman authorities arrived, they would kill him anyway. When the Romans put prisoners in your care, they showed no mercy if those prisoners escaped. A life for a life. That was the rule.
This wasn't just one prisoner that had escaped. This jailer had lost all of them. That is, they had escaped during the earthquake. Not his fault, but the Romans wouldn't care. A life for a life. That was the rule.
So it was time to end it all. The jailer took his sword and got ready for what had to be done. Then a voice cried out: "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!" (Acts 16:28).
All here? Could it be true? The jailer called for lights, searched the jail and realized it was true. None of the prisoners had left.
The jailer recognized the voice… it was one of those crazy prisoners from the inner cell. They had been singing all night. Not the songs the drunks would sing as they slowly sobered, but songs about a man named Jesus. Now the jailer knew he had to know more about those crazy prisoners and their Jesus. "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:29). That was the question the jailer asked as he threw himself at the feet of the apostle Paul.
It was the right question, even if this man may not have even known what he was asking. He was thinking about saving his life; Paul would talk to him about saving his soul.
"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household" (Acts 16:31). Paul began with those words, the most important ones. By the time he had finished his explanation, the jailer had decided to be baptized, along with his whole family.
We don't know much more about this jailer, but we do know that he didn't die by his own hand that night. Instead, he found life.
You can too. Even if you don't see the point of going on. Even if you can't see any future except a bad one. Even if death seems a better alternative than anything else that lies ahead. You can find life instead. You can find Jesus. You can believe in Him, obey his commands and choose life instead of death. New life for your life, under his rule.
(Expressed written consent must be obtained prior to republishing, retransmitting or otherwise reusing the content of this article. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org)