When [Peter, who had just been released from prison by an angel] realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying (Acts 12:12).
Unlike many of the women we have been studying, Mary seems to have been well off. Somehow she is related to Barnabas who we know was wealthy enough to sell some property and donate the proceeds to help feed and house the needy of the newly formed church (Acts 4:36,37). Mary in turn had a home large enough for many in the church to meet in to pray for Peter after James had been martyred. The church was no longer 10,000 men strong because it had scattered in Acts 8, but it was undoubtedly still a good sized congregation of God's people. Her home also seemed to be a short walk from the prison and easy to find, even in the middle of the night.
The church was not just praying for Peter, I am sure. If he and James could be swept off the streets at Herod's behest and killed without remorse, any of them could. They did not even answer the door. They sent poor little Rhoda to answer a door that seems to have been locked. After all, wouldn't that seem more normal, for the maid to answer the door? Perhaps she could even turn away whoever it was without suspicion. But I am also sure that a group that large could not have assembled without the neighbors knowing something was going on. What if one of them turned them in? In fact, that class of people might have been the most likely to have turned them in—Sadducees and priests were the wealthiest class.
But Mary opens her doors to her brothers and sisters so they will have somewhere relatively private to commune and pray during a terrifying crisis. Would any of us do that? Would we have allowed a line of parked cars up and down the street that practically screams, "Here we are! Come and get us!" The more I read about these people, the more inadequate I feel. We need to learn these lessons now, folks. The world out there is rapidly becoming hostile to Christianity. We are now the bad guys. No matter how many good deeds we may do, we will still be turned in, just as some of the people who survived the plague in the second century because of the care of their Christian neighbors turned them in. But a few did convert. And that can always be our hope and motivation.
And that is what the Lord expects of us. We have had it too easy for too long. It's time to get tough, to realize what we may soon be up against and to prepare ourselves, and our children! We will need a Mary, and a Lydia, and a Priscilla, and a Dorcas, and people like those other early Christians who gave it all for the Lord. Let's hope we are tough enough to do it.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go (Josh 1:9).