Simon and Simony and Samaria
Philip goes to Samaria and preaches the Jesus story with the happy result that virtually the whole city believes. The picture that we are given is that young and old, rich and poor, those to the right and those to the left all believe in Jesus. By the power of Jesus wrecked lives are mended, sins are forgiven and people are restored to God. It is also noteworthy that Philip, having been called and commissioned by the Apostles, has the power to perform miracles. We read “For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed” The beautiful conclusion is that “there was great joy in that city”.
One rather unsavory character who also tunes in to Philip’s preaching was a man called Simon. Like many today Simon seems to have been much more interested in miracles performed rather than the message preached. So much so that he actually offers money to the apostles, who had now appeared on the scene, to be able to do what they did. True to form, Peter’s rebuke is stinging; “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God”.
Ever after the sin of trying to buy positions within the Church has been called ‘simony’. However, what we need to understand today is that God’s blessing and God’s salvation cannot be bought with money. You could cobble together both Donald Trump’s and Bill Gates’ cash and still have no buying power in the eyes of Heaven. If that is true then the question is- what can buy God’s salvation?
Answer; only the death of Jesus! On the cross the Bible tells us that Jesus bought every blessing that his believing people would ever need in time and eternity, both for now and on the judgment day! The Jesus story is that Jesus died in the place of lost hopeless people thereby buying God’s ever so costly forgiveness for our every piece of guilt. All that God now requires of us is for us to come to Him in repentance and faith, with empty hands and receive His free gift of forgiveness.
For a proud religious person that is too high a price to pay, but for the rest of us this is the best news imaginable!