We saw the tide turn on the church the last time we were together. Their message was NOT popular with the religious leaders but the people were lapping it up. With the stoning of Stephen though the religious leaders are on a roll and prepared to stamp out the new church wherever they encounter it, especially in Jerusalem. So the body has broken up into smaller pieces and is reestablishing itself outside of Jerusalem.
Today we get to see one of the results of the disbursement of the church. Philip, one of the twelve apostles has gone on a short “missions trip” to Samaria. This is certainly one place the religious leaders won’t follow him. They are adamantly against associating with any Samaritan. But the apostles learned directly from Jesus that they were to love these people and bring the word to them too.
I’m not sure if this is the first time the gospel has reached Samaria since Pentecost but I don’t see it mentioned earlier in Luke’s account. I may have skimmed right over the top of it though.
Those in attendance during Philip’s sharing the gospel were glued to their seats. Everyone paid attention. Not because Philip was famous or because he was some great orator but because of the miracles they saw and the words he shared. I don’t have to imagine, I KNOW, the Holy Spirit was working through him that day. “So there was much joy in that city” (verse 8).
Father God, thank You for sending disbursing the church. Without that outward movement these people wouldn’t have been reached. They were not welcome in Jerusalem. Thank You Jesus too for demonstrating Your love for them while You were still with Your disciples. They went to Samaria because You paved the way there first. Like Father, like sons. Thank You for reaching out to all of us, even us Gentiles. Where would we be without Your example? This was just the beginning of Your disciples stepping into the commandments of the “great commission”: Go into all the world and preach the gospel. Thank You that “the world” didn’t end at the gates of the city.