June 11, 2020
Acts 8:5-6 KJV
 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.  And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
Just a short time after Philip and the other six men volunteered to serve the church in Jerusalem, the city began to be more hostile towards the growing church than ever before. Ever since Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, the Jewish officials had been suspicious of the group of Jesus’ followers, but now things had moved from suspicion to persecution. Christians were being arrested and beaten. Stephen, one of the men who had volunteered to serve with Philip in chapter 6, had been arrested and publicly executed for his devotion to Jesus. It was not a good time to be a Christian in Jerusalem, so many of the church members left. As they went, they took the good news of Jesus with them, and more and more people began to put their faith and trust in Jesus for the first time. Most of the Christians who left Jerusalem traveled to other Jewish communities to spread the good news: that Jesus’ death was a sacrifice that paid the price of everyone’s sins. Philip had a different idea though. Instead of taking the Gospel to another Jewish community, he went to the people that the Jews hated most, the Samaritans.
The Jews considered the Samaritans to be “half breeds”. Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, a group of Jewish people had decided to intermarry with the Jew’s Assyrian and Babylonian captors, and soon there was a group of people who, even though they claimed to worship the one true God, were not welcome around the temple or even in Jewish cities. They created their own society, with their own temple and religious practices. For centuries, Jewish people refused to have anything to do with Samaritans. They could not forgive them for a mistake that their ancestors had made hundreds of years before. This was the group of people that Philip decided go to, when he left Jerusalem.
For the first time that anyone in Samaria could remember, they were being told that God loved them. Instead of telling them how awful they were, Philip told them what Jesus had done so that they could be right with God. This was a group of people desperate to be right with God! Huge crowds came to hear Philip preach the saving power of Jesus. God gave him the ability to do amazing things to convince the crowds that everything he said was true, and everyone began to accept Christ as their savior. Even Simon, the village sorcerer, turned his life over to Jesus. For longer than anyone could remember, Jews were not willing to even walk through Samaria, but Philip did way more than walk through. He treated people, who everyone else hated, like they mattered to God. Philip was willing to go where no one else would, and because he did, thousands of people came to know Christ.
One of the most remarkable things about this passage is that Philip is not even mentioned in the second half of it. Peter and John show up and take over. Philip doesn’t stomp his feet and demand to be the one in charge; he was the one who was willing to go to the Samaritans in the first place. He was willing to take a step back, and let the apostles take over. Proving that to Philip it was never about himself. It was about a group of people who needed to know that God loved them, and Jesus had died for them. Philip was just the first one since Jesus in John 4 who was willing to tell them.