Hello again! Welcome back. Yesterday we heard about how something humans had intended for evil (the severe persecution of Christians), God instead used for good (the spreading of his good news throughout the world). Today we get up close and personal with one of these Christians and hear about how God used him in an amazing way.
Philip in Samaria
Acts 8:4-8 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.
Philip was one of the Christians who was forced to leave Jerusalem amidst the persecution, and he found himself in Samaria. I don’t know about you, but I think if I’d been forced to leave my home because my life was in danger most of my following actions would be pretty selfish. I’d want to find safety, shelter, food, clothing and an array of other things to help keep myself protected. I think I’d probably try to stay low, to keep out of sight of any potential bounty hunters who had been sent after me. But instead of looking out for himself, we find Philip doing the exact opposite and drawing crowds to come as he proclaims Christ to the people he encounters in Samaria.
Here we hear witness that our God is the God of the miraculous; people were freed from impure spirits, those who were paralysed were healed. These signs and wonders all acted as a way for Philip’s message to point the Samaritans to Christ, the Messiah. God enabled both Philips actions of healing and other miracles to draw attention to the words he said, and those around him were able to both listen and see that Christ was real, that he was the Messiah.
What makes this story even more incredible is that is happened in Samaria. The Samaritans weren’t popular among the Jewish circles that Philip had come from in Jerusalem. Samaritans were considered unclean due to their mixed ancestry (half-bloods). They weren’t truly considered either Jews or Gentiles, they were a little of both, which meant they didn’t really fit anywhere, they were outcasts.
As a result of these demonstrations of miraculous signs of healing and restoration, there was joy in the city! How incredible is that? God used the words and actions of one man, someone who was an outsider, to come into this place and demonstrate the amazing power of Christ and help an entire city to be filled with joy. In the midst of persecution and being displaced from his own home, Philip was still able to know and declare the joy of the Lord.
To think about
Has God ever put you in a place you didn’t plan on being? Were you able to be like Philip and proclaim Christ even in the unplanned place where you found yourself?
Have you ever felt like a Samaritan, looked down on by others around you, an outcast? It’s incredible to know that God doesn’t care about status the way that society often does. His word is for everyone, no matter where you’ve come from, or who you are.
We have the gift of the most incredible message anyone could ever hear, a message that can bring joy to everyone we encounter. How can you help those you encounter today experience that same joy?