A mother’s welcoming love

Published 11:02 pm Saturday, May 11, 2024

By R.A. Mathews

He was an innocent man on death row — imprisoned with maximum-security measures. A man in need of welcoming love. 

In this true story, filled with suspense, the man does escape and where he goes is interesting, since he knew a vast manhunt would begin once he was discovered missing.

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Here’s the story, written nearly two thousand years ago. It’s Peter’s escape from Herod before the morning of his scheduled execution.

“… Herod the king . . . had James the brother of John executed with a sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter… (and) put him in prison, turning him over to four squads of soldiers…

“On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly stood near Peter, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’

“And his chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, ‘Put on your belt and… follow me.’

“Now when they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him” (Acts 12:1-10).

What did Peter do next?

He did not flee the city. The angel had led him past the iron gate and into Jerusalem where danger would have been at its greatest. Remember, Peter was scheduled to be brought before Herod that morning for execution.

Scripture makes a point to tell us exactly where Peter went. And it’s easy to overlook. Here’s the passage.

“When Peter came to himself . . . he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John, who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying” (Acts 12:11-12).

It gets more interesting. 

When he knocked at the door of the gate, a slave woman… recognized Peter’s voice… and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate. 

They said to her, ‘You are out of your mind!’ But she kept insisting that it was so. They said, ‘It is his angel.’ But Peter continued knocking; and… they saw him and were amazed. 

But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he describe… how the Lord had led him out of the prison. And he said, ‘Report these things to James and the brothers.’ Then he left and went to another place” (Acts 12:13-17).

Peter didn’t go to the apostles. He went to the home of John Mark’s mother. And, even though he couldn’t get them to open the door, Peter kept knocking. This is important, because Peter was in grave danger. Soldiers could have seized him at any moment. Yet Peter waited—he had to see them. 


Peter refers to Mark as his son (1 Peter 5:13). And many think the Gospel of Mark was written to relay Peter’s memories. The writer definitely had access to a disciple given the details in that Gospel. For instance, when Jesus calmed the sea, Luke and Matthew simply say He was asleep. But Mark records poignant details. Jesus… was in the stern, asleep on the cushion… ” (Mark 4:38, Luke 8:23, Matthew 8:23).

Perhaps Mark was merely Peter’s adopted son, but if not, Mark’s mother was Peter’s wife, and Peter had gone home. 

Some say no, because Peter was from Galilee, a region far to the north. But look at this verse after the Resurrection. Peter got up and ran to the tomb and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened. He did not go to his home in Galilee, because he was at the Upper Room that evening (Luke 24:12, 33).

Whomever Mark’s mother was, we know she had a welcoming home “… where many were gathered together and were praying…”

I admire my friend Melanie Ezell for having just such an inviting home. Right now, the extended family is staying with her and her husband, as was true last month. She also makes room for those in need. I know, because I stayed there during repairs to my house.  

A home is not about a building nor the things inside. As Mark’s mother knew, it’s a place of welcoming love. And that’s where Peter went first.

This Mother’s Day, remember to thank your mother for the home she created for you.


The Rev. Mathews (BA, MDiv, JD) is a newspaper faith columnist and the author of Emerald Coast: The Vendetta. Write to her at Hello@RAMathews.com. (Just one t in Mathews)

Copyright © 2024 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved.