Jesus’ Life: Chapter 20 – Early Spread Of Gospel By the Disciples
After Stephen’s stoning to death, all disciples, with the exception of the Twelve Apostles, were persecuted and forced out of Jerusalem. Philip, one of the first Seven Deacons, went to Samaria (City of Sebaste).
In Samaria, his determination to proclaim Jesus’ Gospel remained as strong as ever. The Samaritan people saw his many miraculous works, listened to his teachings and embraced Christianity; they were convinced that his words were from God and not man; they rejoiced throughout the City and were baptised.
Now, Simon, a magician who lived in the city, had for many years “
When Simon heard about Philip and saw how the people of the city were placing their total trust in his teachings, he also listened and apparently, placed his faith entirely in the Word of God. He was baptised and remained close to Philip, watching with amazement as he removed unclean spirits, healed the sick and cured the paralysed.
In the meantime, as the news of Philip’s success reached Jerusalem, the overjoyed Apostles agreed that Peter and John should go to Samaria so the people “could receive the Holy Spirit”. (Although Philip baptised in the name of Jesus, the Holy Spirit had yet to be conveyed to them – just as we receive the Holy Spirit in Confirmation.) (Acts 8:15)
When Peter and John arrived they confirmed the teachings of Philip, “placed their hands on the Samaritans and they received the Holy Spirit”. (Acts 8:16) Simon the magician, watching closely, saw the “laying on of hands” and offered them money in return for the same power! His false intentions were immediately apparent, he was a hypocrite, his professed belief in Jesus’ promises of eternal reward in heaven was a sham, he saw only the possibility of purchasing the same power from them and creating a prosperous business!
Peter said to him:
- “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire God’s gift with money!
- You have no share or part in this matter because your heart is not right before God!
- Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that he may perhaps forgive you for the intent of your heart.
- For I see that you are bitterly envious and in bondage to sin”. (Acts 8:20-23)
Simon’s only response was to ask Peter to pray for him but Peter had already told him to repent and pray for himself!
Peter and John, when they finished their work in Sebaste, perhaps having assisted Philip to set up a supportive community of disciples, travelled back to Jerusalem through many other villages, and proclaimed Jesus’ Gospel as they went. (Acts 8:4-40)
Peter offered Simon a way forward; pray, repent and seek forgiveness but the initiative must come from him!
Of course, the same opportunity applies to us when we do wrong! But the choice is ours!
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. (Psalm 51:10-11
Prayer: Peace (St Francis of Assisi)
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.