But there was a man named Simon who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the nation of Sama'ria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all gave heed to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is that power of God which is called Great." And they gave him this attention because he had for a long time amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip, as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ to them, they were baptised, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptised he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.
What more can we say about this wonderful story? By building communities on an expectation that God will honour His promises, people make strong and enduring relationships. But as time goes by that holy expectation can wane. Instead of waiting faithfully, communities often stray and give special place to peculiar distractions. These eat away at a people's faith. So we can say that the Samaritans stood in need of Philip's good news. Only the message of the coming of God's Prophet had the power to dislodge Simon's magic from the parasitic place it had assumed in their lives. Then they would no longer have to play Simon's manipulative games.
And so Philip confronted this self-proclaimed divine power-monger and Simon was spell-bound. The gospel had turned these people from magic to faith in Jesus Christ, and maybe they tended to view the message as a new form of magic. But gradually this would change. Philip proclaimed "the Christ", the one Stephen had told the Council fulfilled Moses' prophecy, "God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as he raised me up." This was a promise held dear by the worshippers of God in Samaria. They built their lives upon it. They lived looking to the coming of God's Deliverer. But after the split between the northern and southern kingdoms so many hundreds of years before, Samaria and Judah had taken separate paths.
Prior to Philip's visit, James and John had expressed the deep enmity that was still there. But Philip's proclamation of "the Christ" healed that historical rift. The people received the news with joy. Philip fulfilled Jesus' departing words "You shall be my witnesses in Samaria". God's mercy had come in its fullness. Evil spirits were cast out, those with crippled bodies found they could walk freely again. The Christ had come, and those waiting for this Deliverer, the One who fulfilled God's promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, need wait no more. This was news. And magic lost its power.
Persecution had caused many to flee Jerusalem. Philip is Luke's example of how God's Spirit helped those fleeing to pass on the message to all they met in their flight. Jesus had come to give life, life in all its abundance.