A Daily Dose of Good News
Friday, April 30, 2021
Pastor Steve’s devotional is available online at https://youtu.be/3xxpQU3-T-A
A printer-friendly version of this devotion is available at DDGN 20210430
You may dialog with Pastor Steve on this devotion at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now a certain man named Simon had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they listened eagerly to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place.
Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God. Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness.” Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.”
Now after Peter and John had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, proclaiming the good news to many villages of the Samaritans. (Acts 8:9-25)
Here’s a passage of good news
That helps us remember the different between magic and miracles …
Between me, me, me, me and mission.
Accounts of life in the ancient middle east
Including many accounts of different persons performing wonders.
Some of whom even claimed some sort of messianic, salvific status for themselves.
Jesus’ status was different from all of them in two important ways.
First the most important way:
Very often the other would-be messianic wonder-workers
Would meet the same demise as did Jesus.
They would be killed to stop any movements growing around them.
The difference between all the others and Jesus
Is that all the others stayed dead … and Jesus was raised again!
Still, before meeting their demise
There were other distinguishing characteristics
Between Jesus and other messianic wonder-workers of the day.
And Simon is a great illustration of that.
Simon of Samaria (rather than Simon Peter the disciple)
Was achieving great notoriety with the magic
That he was performing among the people
Who would come to acclaim him
As one “with the power God who is called Great!”
And when he saw the works that Jesus disciples were doing
He saw an opportunity to expand his repertoire tricks.
But when he asked that the disciples let him in on the schtick,
Even offered to pay for it …!
The disciples clarified the difference between magic and miracles
Between me, me, me, me and mission.
Simon’s heart was turned on himself.
The magic tricks he performed,
he performed for his own benefit and acclaim.
His concern was wholly on himself — me, me, me, me.
And that is not the way of Jesus.
Jesus’ wonder-working was magic intent on bringing him fame,
But rather miracles intent on pointing to the glory of God.
Jesus’ focus in life was not self-promotion — me, me, me, me
But rather then mission to bring near the kingdom of God … everywhere.
And the heart of Jesus’ mission is still strong among his followers,
Especially during events of the pandemic and social unrest around the world.
The impetus for our action as a church has not been
Personal self-preservation or self-promotion
But rather the outward, well-being of the community:
We wear masks and keep safe distance as much and more
For the well-being of others than for ourselves.
At a time when forces in the community are driving us apart,
We’re working to hear the plight and perspectives of others different from us
That would make us a community not of “Simon Says”
But instead a community of “Jesus says”
Where we are blessed to follow his lead together. Amen