No Sale

People love street magic, don’t they? It always amazes people and the person doing the stuff always has such an air of mystery and power about them. It’s intriguing to observe how quickly we assign importance to people who can entertain us, isn’t it?

This Sunday we’ll be reading Acts 8:4-25 and we’ll encounter a magician…more appropriately, a false prophet who held sway over people until the Kingdom of God invaded his space.

As you read through the text, do you see any contrasts between Philip and Simon? What did Philip preach, and what did Simon present? What was the result of Philip’s message and power compared with Simon’s?

Do you read anything in the text that would make you suspicious of Simon’s conversion experience?

Peter is harsh with his response to Simon’s offer – what message do we get from that? Is there anything in our contemporary understanding of church and Christianity that we should examine in light of Peter’s sharp rebuke?

It’s interesting that Simon appears in several other non-Biblical writings. One of the most intriguing to me is Justin Martyr’s mention of him in his second apology. I wrote a paraphrase of that section several years ago – if Justin’s record is correct, it would seem that Simon didn’t follow Peter’s instructions.

Let’s seek better things in our experience of following Jesus – let’s learn our lessons from the story of Simon.

Hope to see you this Sunday!

4 comments

  1. Imagine if the disciples had accepted Simon’s offer. Imagine if they were able to sell their powers what kind of system that would have created.

    It would be a two-tiered system: On one level, those with access, those who can pay enough money can have full access to God and his gifts. On the other level, the poor and the middle-class Christian live with only a partial blessing. It is almost the same exact system the Pharisees before Simon and many Christians after Simon tried to create — and it is very much disconnected from Christ’s message.

    That’s why Peter didn’t just respond sharply, he NEEDED to respond sharply.

  2. Peter’s response reminds me of Jesus’ outburst in the temple when he toppled the moneychangers’ tables. It was that same righteous indignation we see here in Pete. The money changers and Simon were missing the point. They used religion, Simon used magic, both seeking to take advantage of the same souls Jesus came to save. That never sits well with those whose hearts are motivated by His. Simon proclaimed his own greatness, Philip proclaimed Christ. Simon intrigued with signs stayed close to Philip. His attention fixed on the vessel through which God healed rather than on the Healer himself…True converts seek the heart of Christ and the wholeness of others, Simon’s offer revealed his loyalties still laid elsewhere.. Maybe Pete’s strong rebuke shook some sense into Simon…it kind of seemed to…either way we can all examine our own hearts, asking God to help us steer clear of our own self serving natures!

  3. Reluctantly I have to admit, Simon is so much like any of us… when we seek for the attention and approval from others instead of our creator. He was so close… yet so far away from finding that ultimate fix for his need to be loved. While he was seeking the esteem of others, he missed the power and love behind the signs and wonders. He thought he could buy the power to gain the love he needed. Often I think I can earn the acceptance and appreciation from others, earn it somehow. It would have been so much easier for Simon if he could put his pride aside and find the free love and acceptance from the one providing the miracles. He was completely self-serving, but before we say “I would never”… this fallen nature is in every one of us and I thank God for putting this story in the scriptures to remind of us how frail we can become when we depend on man for acceptance and value. Many times we are seeking something else to fill the need when God is right there revealing His love to us. I’m praying for continuous removal of my blinders from the Glory in front of me!

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