12:18 Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. 19 But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death.
And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.
I have been shaken since yesterday by the idea that Peter has lost his boldness. I did some research and found that Peter is mentioned by name 59 times in the book of Acts but only once after this incident. Does it mean he is a lost man? Not at all. We know from Acts 15 and the book of Galatians and the letters Peter wrote that he very much continued to serve God but he did change it seems. The unbridled boldness that refused to concede an inch to the threats of the enemies of Christ was altered by the death of James.
When the angel set him free from Herod's prison he could have stayed in town. He could have preached publicly. They could have had no trouble finding him. Instead he went back to Caesarea, likely to Cornelius to seek refuge there.
There is precedent for his retreat. Elijah hid from Ahab. Jesus Himself avoided Jerusalem at certain times. In both of those examples it was not fear that motivated them yet with Peter that element seems to be there.
After more reflection and prayer for wisdom I have come to a new conclusion. The point isn't really so much that Peter lost his edge. The point is that God stayed with him. Late in his life here Elijah lost his edge. He was even suicidal yet God stayed with him. At the end God asked Elijah to do three simple things: anoint two kings and Elisha as his replacement. Elijah went straight to Elisha. He never did anoint the kings. He was spent. He was what we would call today burned out.
God understood and rather than cast him aside He brought him Home in the most dramatic way ever seen.
Peter is emotionally spent. It's bad enough to hear of the senseless and tragic deaths of strangers. James was Peter's friend. He and James and John were almost always with Jesus. I am certain Peter was wrestling with the same questions we wrestle with. Why? Why didn't Jesus do something? He healed the sick. He empowered them to heal the sick also. Jesus even raised the dead and empowered them to also. Why did he permit Herod, an evil man, to end the life of his friend so violently without an ounce of intervention?
Until the dark battle between good and evil is over we'll always have these questions. They are questions that take the wind from our sails. We know when the battle is over that events like the death of James will be understood and that lives were saved and hearts changed as a result. In the meantime we wonder, grieve, and trust and God gives us the time and space to do it. He even walks with us when our sails are tattered and torn and we are not the man we used to be. In fact He walks even closer then.