12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
17 But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.
Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Watch just about any comedy on television, whether it is an old one like I Love Lucy or Leave it to Beaver, or a more modern version, The Office or Big Bang Theory, and you will experience comedic irony. Through the lens of the camera, you as an audience member will see some fact or another, which characters in the series are unaware of. The rest of the show is dedicated to those characters figuring out what you already know. Almost always there are misunderstandings, and more than few mistakes are made along the way. It is a guaranteed way to get a laugh out of an audience. For some reason people like to laugh at watching other people figure something out when they already know the answer.
Read this little passage again. It is the story of the Apostles’ arrest, release, and second appearance before the Chief Priest and Sadducees of Jerusalem. Because you are “in prison” with the Apostles, you know what happens. An angel comes and gets them out of jail. But the temple guards and the religious leaders are unaware of this. They go looking the next day and find the cells empty, even though the guards are still on duty. Peter of course knows and for obvious reasons he is not worried about being thrown in jail again, so, he speaks freely. The guards are hesitant to get too forceful with these men. It did not work last time. And the Chief Priests likewise are fumbling about. You are reading a first century version of a comedic script here. Luke is using comedic irony to make a point. Luke uses a laugh, and he does intend that you laugh at those silly guards and Sanhedrin members, to tell us that we should obey God rather than men. On Easter morning we got to see the ultimate “secret.” The grave is not the end nor is it eternal. Jesus has broken it. So let them threaten us all they want. Jesus will raise us. We are God’s Easter people!