-Honest and Loyal Maid -
Rhoda's personal Greek name means, "rose." She lived in Judah at the time Jesus Christ walked amongst mankind. She believed in Him as The Son of God and in his Resurrection, His Ascension and that He had sent the Holy Spirit to believers. Her relationship to the well-known family and household of Mary, the mother of John Mark, the evangelist, who lived comfortably in Jerusalem, was a domestic servant girl. This family is believed to be from the tribe of Levi, because of being related closely to Barnabas, who became a well-known Christian missionary with the Apostle Paul.
Rhoda was a foreigner and most probably had been in service to the same family previously in Cyprus, who had owned property there and at some time lived on the island. She herself was not from the island but was already living there and probably taken there as a slave.
As a foreign servant-maid Rhoda had no great importance in her own family or inheritance. Her working hours were constant, but her conditions were satisfactory and she was very happy. She was treated fairly, with respect and she was not exploited. Being a household servant, Rhoda was not a slave, even though they were treated similarly, but a domestic maid officially had more privileges and responsibilities. Even though she was not an Israelite, Rhoda had the authority of her position given to her by Mary, Mark's mother.
Rhoda was known to have the qualities that made her a satisfactory housemaid. They were admirable virtues seen by her employer Mary, as diligence, faithfulness, honesty, obedience, perseverance, respectful and very importantly, willingness.
According to the Jewish Law all servants had to be paid fairly and promptly, and along with the whole household, Rhoda had become a servant of The Lord Jesus Christ. Not only did she work to please her employer, with whom she was a close and reliable friend, she now also worked to please God, because of Jesus Christ.
Rhoda is known for her presence at the late night prayer gathering held at Mary of Jerusalem's house, which was the headquarters for the local church, where believers regularly met. The meeting was held to intercede for the life of the imprisoned apostle Peter who was an intended victim for execution because of his belief in Jesus Christ as God's Messiah, in the year 44 A.D. under King Herod Agrippa I, the reigning monarch of Palestine.
Peter became a very close friend of Mary's son Mark. The prayers of the faithful saints were answered miraculously by the intervention of God-sent messengers, angels, who led Peter by the hand out of the jail from where he was guarded in chains, to the town centre. From there he went straight to Mary's house.
It was long past midnight when Peter reached Mary's house, yet they were all still praying for his life. In Rhoda's great joy at finding the miraculously released Peter at the door, she failed to let him in, although she recognised his voice as he spoke. Her excitement in the answered prayers caused her to rush to tell the praying disciples, leaving Peter stranded outside, but their response was accusing her of madness, believing him to have already been killed (Acts 12:13).
Knowing it was Peter at the door, her duty as a maid was to unbolt the door and give him entrance to the praying intercessory church group. However, through her joy of answered prayer she forgot herself and even though mocked by the other intercessors who did not believe their prayers had been answered, she persisted against the opposition to constantly confirm that Peter was there. Peter continued to knock and the believers were astonished that God had rescued him, yet Rhoda was exuberant.
This occurrence in which Rhoda is mentioned draws attention to the importance of prayer of disciples gathering to uphold before God those persecuted who belonged to the early church, which was very active and culturally diverse. It was also extremely dangerous for believers just to let strangers into their houses, especially at that hour, but Rhoda had recognized Peter's voice and became overjoyed for she had been expectant in prayer.
Her life and duties indicate not only that she was a willing servant of her mistress but a willing prayerful follower of the Truth of Jesus of Nazareth.
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