Wednesday, May 4, 2022.
Have you ever witnessed a miracle? Have you ever had a conversion experience?
Let’s go back in time.
Stephen had just been stoned to death. Saul was wreaking havoc in “the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”
The disciples had split off, going in different directions to spread the good news of Jesus.
“Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.”
Many men and women believed what Philip was saying, and they were baptized; Simon was among them. Not only was he baptized but he began to travel with Philip and “was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.”
Simon had previously practiced sorcery and apparently, he was really good at it, as he “astonished the people of Samaria…” but he did not get the whole picture. “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
He thought he could buy the power of the Holy Spirit!
Peter was quite stern in his reply: “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”
I could not find any evidence of what happened to Simon after this. There does not appear to be anymore Bible references to his story or his life. Did he repent? I don’t know. But I did find something interesting. Simon Magus was also known as Simon the Sorcerer or Simon the Magician and the act of “simony”, or paying for position, is named after Simon. (Source: Wikipedia)
Okay, on to a great baptism story.
Peter and John had joined Philip when they heard of the successes he was having preaching and baptizing in Samaria but, there came a time when they returned to Jerusalem, preaching in many villages as they traveled.
One morning an angel spoke to Philip. The angel told Philip to get up and go toward the south, to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. It was a very deserted place. Philip did what any good Christian should, he got up and did as he was told.
We like to say God’s timing is always perfect and there was a divine appointment waiting for Philip.
At the very same time there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, returning from Jerusalem, on the very road that Philip had been told to travel. This Ethiopian was a court official of Candance, the queen of the Ethiopians, and he was in charge of all her treasure.
This Ethiopian is seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
The Holy Spirit then tells Philip to approach the chariot. Philip is on foot, but the Bible says he ran to him. The Ethiopian must have been reading out loud because we are told that Philip heard him reading Isaiah. We even know which section of Isaiah he was reading.
Philip asked him “Do you understand what you are reading?” The Ethiopian replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”
He then invited Philip to hop in and sit with him.
The passage he was reading was this:
“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.”
The Eunuch asked Philip, is the prophet Isaiah speaking about himself, or someone else?
Then Philip began to preach! The Bible tells us that “Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this scripture, preached Jesus to him.”
Somewhere in that conversation baptism came up. We know that because as they are traveling down the road, the come upon a body of water.
The eunuch said to Philip, here is some water. Is there anything stopping me from being baptized? Philip answered him and said, if you believe with all your heart, there is nothing stopping you.
The eunuch said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
“So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.”
We see Philip preaching the word of God and obeying the voice of an angel.
We see the conversion of the Ethiopian, who the Holy Spirit was already working on.
We see the baptism of the Ethiopian.
And then we see Philip simply disappear as they came out of the water.
I am sure that was a day the Ethiopian talked about frequently. Not only his conversion but the miracle he witnessed.
Have you ever witnessed a miracle? Have you ever had a conversion experience? If not, pray for one. Jesus is waiting to perform a miracle in your life.