Before Phillip came to Samaria there was a magician named Simon there. His livelihood was making money from his magic and everyone thought he must have gained his power from God. But when Phillip came preaching Christ and healing, the people saw the genuine power of God. Many were baptized in the name of Jesus – including Simon. In fact, he became a Phillip groupie, following him everywhere to see in person the signs and miracles.
Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit
Word travels fast…and Peter and John are sent on a road trip to pray for the Holy Spirit. It is critical to the new life in Jesus that the Holy Spirit be received. I’m not positive if they knew exactly what would happen. All this was new. They were just going wherever God was clearly working and following the Spirit’s lead.
P & J laid their hands on people and prayed and the Spirit came upon the new believers. Now Simon saw this and had in his mind this was real power and not magic. In his old way of thinking he pictured this being his new business so he thought he would see if he could buy in.
The confrontation was harsh. Peter and John did not mince words. “You cannot buy the gift of God with money. You are in bad shape and repentance is your only hope for a way out.”
Sometimes our simple words reveal a deeply buried construct in our thinking. That construct can be so foundationally wrong as to separate us from moving forward with the Lord. Peter and John were doing Simon a great favor to speak this truth to him – painful as it must have seemed.
First, Simon’s heart had long been drawn to money and the power money could buy. This priority was no longer an option if his new life was to survive. “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” The Lord wanted to spare Simon continuing on this path. (I am reminded the Lord disciplines the one he loves. (Heb. 12:6))
Second, Simon was in a gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. Simon had been a sorcerer. He had lived by yielding himself to God’s enemy. Being completely free of this bondage would require some purposeful severing. He was in deeper than he knew. A bitter tree bears bitter fruit and a root of bitterness causes trouble and defiles many. Simon was challenged to denounce his past – pray and repent.
And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
(This is exactly the response the Lord desired for Simon – and for me. We all have worldly ways of thinking and our minds need renewing. Some ideologies are profoundly corrupt and firmly entrenched but the Lord is faithful to see and bring them to the Light. I pray for a Simon’s heart –seriously quick to repent.)
Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
I love the idea that Peter and John preached Jesus all the way back to Jerusalem. (They were not just doing their Jesus work while they were on the clock – having been sent down on this church business. Preaching Jesus was not their 9 to 5 job or their Sunday job. Preaching Jesus was their 24/7 life.)
He loves us the way we are, but too much to leave us that way. ~ Leighton Ford
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Ps. 139:23-24
About the World?
There’s power and then there’s God’s power.