As part of those who fled to avoid the persecution of 8.1-3, Philip went down to the city of Samaria. Philip was among the servants chosen in 6.5 and going to Samaria certainly took courage.
“About 750 years before this, the Assyrians conquered this area of northern Israel and deported all the wealthy and middle-class Jews from the area. Then they moved in a pagan population from afar. These pagans intermarried with the lowest classes of remaining Jews in northern Israel, and from these people came the Samaritans.
Generally speaking, the Jews of that day hated the Samaritans. They considered them compromising half-breeds who corrupted the worship of the true God.”
There was tension between the two group of people (Luke 10.25-37, John 4) but Philip went there boldly and proclaimed to them the Christ. As a Gentile (non-Jew) himself, Philip knew that the life-changing truths of Jesus weren’t now limited to one group of people and, wonderfully, the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip.
As is often the case when Jesus is proclaimed to a previously unreached group, Philip’s declarations are accompanied by the signs that end did (v.7) and there was much joy in that city.
For those of us that have grown up or lived in the modern West, it can be easy to overlook just how life-changing the truths of Jesus are. So much of what we value about our society is deeply rooted in Christian thought and teaching that we forget that to be confronted with the Gospel, to be forgiven from the reality of our sinful selves, to be redeemed and rescued unto life eternal should fill us with joy as it did the Samaritans here. We are so saturated with the stories of the Bible that we can miss the pure and simple joy of the Good News.
Thought for today – When was the last time I felt joy at hearing the Good News?
I’d love to hear from you when that was!