April 14, Tuesday
All this did nothing to stop the Message. All who had been scattered began spreading the good news everywhere they went. Philip, another of the Seven chosen to help the apostles along with Stephen, found himself in the city of Samaria. As he told the story of Jesus, large crowds listened and watched as evil spirits were cast out and the lame and paralyzed were cured. The whole city was buzzing with excitement.
One of the town’s notorieties was a man named Simon, a sorcerer who had impressed the people with his magic acts. People called him “the Great Power of God.” As the multitudes heard Philip’s message about the Kingdom of God and saw what was done in the name of Jesus Christ, they embraced it and were baptized into the new faith. Simon too believed and was baptized. Then he stayed alongside Philip to see first-hand all the remarkable miracles. He was fascinated by it.
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard reports that Samaria had accepted the Word of God, they sent Peter and John down to check it out. The first thing they did upon arriving was to ask the Lord to pour out His Spirit on them as they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When the apostles laid their hands on the new believers, they received the Spirit. Simon, seeing this phenomenon, offered the apostles some money, saying, “I’d like to have the power you have to give the Holy Spirit to people by laying hands on them.”
But Peter said to him, “What are you thinking? If you believe for a moment that you can buy God’s gifts, you are in no position to be ministering to others. Your heart is in the wrong place; both you and your money will be destroyed. I can see that you are motivated by jealousy and are full of yourself. You’d better get your thinking turned around and beg God’s forgiveness for this sin.”
Simon answered humbly, “Oh, please pray to the Lord for me that this won’t happen to me!”
The apostles and Philip spent some time explaining the Message more fully before returning to Jerusalem. Along the way they presented the Good News to many Samaritan villages.
But an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go down the road which runs from Jerusalem to Gaza out in the desert.” So Philip headed south.
It so happened that an Ethiopian official was passing that way in his chariot. This man was the financial manager for Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, and he was on his way home after coming to Jerusalem to worship.
The Spirit said to Philip, “Run up alongside the chariot and listen.”
As Philip ran forward, he heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. So he said to the Ethiopian, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
The man replied, “Not really. I need someone to explain it.” Then he invited Philip to get in and sit by his side. The passage of Scripture he was reading was this: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so He opened not His mouth. He was humiliated and denied justice. He was left with no descendants because they took His life.”
The official turned to Philip and said, “Can you tell me what this is about? Is Isaiah talking about himself or someone else?”
Starting with these verses, Philip told him the story of Jesus. Before long they came to a place where there was some water and the man said, “Look, here is water; is there any reason why I should not be baptized right now?”
He ordered the carriage to stop. The two of them went down to the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away suddenly; the man never saw him again. He proceeded on his journey, his heart full of joy.
Philip found himself at Azotus. As he passed through the countryside, he went on telling the Good News in all the cities until he came to Caesarea.