Acts 8:9 Now a certain man named Simon had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. 10 All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they listened eagerly to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place. 14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16 (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Our passage raises an eyebrow for me this morning. It doesn’t tell us why Philip (one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus) was unable to impart the Holy Spirit to the new believers in Samaria. They had to wait for Peter and John to visit them from Jerusalem. I assume Philip was in the room on the day of Pentecost like the others, so I’m confused. Perhaps Peter and John had a different kind of anointing than Philip? I’m not sure, though I am reminded of the teaching of Jesus in John’s gospel:
John 3:8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
If I’ve learned anything about the Holy Spirit over the years it’s that there are no formulas to the Spirit’s work. The Spirit does what the Spirit does when the Spirit does it. I wish there were a formula. I wish there were set prayers or actions that would always result in the Spirit doing what we hope for, but that’s not been my experience. I wonder if this was the case with the first apostles as well.
Lord give me faith to believe even if I don’t understand. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.