The Samaritan Pentecost

Today's Bible reading: Acts 8:4-17

It was persecution - following Stephen’s death - which changed the vision of the first believers.  As often in the Church’s history, suffering meant sudden new growth – but not the kind of growth expected.

In Acts, chapter 8, we learn of Philip - one of the seven deacons – who goes to Samaria and soon finds himself in a head on clash with a local wonderworker named Simon, who claims to be acting by some supernatural power.  But Simon can’t match the power of Jesus name – either in the form of Philip’s preaching of the Kingdom … or his miracles.  The end result is that many Samaritans come to faith and are baptized – including Simon!

Given the long-standing hatred between Jews and Samaritans, this event is nothing less than staggering.  It represents such a massive breakthrough that the believers in Jerusalem send Peter and John as their representatives to Samaria to confirm what has happened.  In the final event, it is the Spirit who confirms that the Samaritans are fully members of God’s peoplethe Church.  They receive the Spirit in a special outpouring, which parallels the strange events at Pentecost when Jews became believers.  The program of Jesus is being followed by the Spirit.  A new harvest in the non-Jewish world is being opened up.

Prayer: Father, all too often I have treated Your grace as something I could earn.  Forgive me for Jesus' sake, and let Your Holy Spirit work mightily in my life, that I might imitate Philip and proclaim Your Word of life.  Amen