Today’s Reading: Acts 8
All of us, as children, heard the warning about playing with fire. The combination of youth and fire can be destructive. This is true both naturally and spiritually.
In today’s reading, we learn about a great revival that came to a city called Samaria. The city faced two kinds of fire, and thank God, the right one came:
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-17)
Philip went to Samaria and preached. When those in the Jerusalem church heard how well the Good News was received there, they sent reinforcements— Peter and John—to help him. After Samaria received the Word of God, Peter and John prayed that the fire of heaven would come upon them, as it did them at Pentecost. They laid hands on the Samaritans, who received that Pentecostal fire, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There is something special about this moment, but to understand it, we have to go back to Luke 9 and read about two disciples who were playing with fire:
When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:51-56)
The disciples were dealing with racist hearts. The Samaritans were halfbreeds to the Jews. They were part Assyrian and part Jewish—a result of the Jews’ Assyrian captivity. They were a mixed race whom the Jewish people considered impure.
Jesus rebuked them and their racist spirits. He told them that the Son of Man did not come to destroy lives but to save them.
Thank God for His rebukes and His corrections upon our lives. Can you imagine what would have happened if those disciples actually called fire down in Luke 9? We would not be reading Acts 8. There would be no Samaria. Wrong fire, boys! God was wanting to send another fire but not the one they wanted. This is very important—the two boys who wanted to call down judgment fire, or Elijah fire, as it says in the King James Version, were James and John. And when Jesus rebuked them, it set them back on course.
Sometimes it takes encouragement to get us on the right path, sometimes teaching, sometimes rebuke—but always combined with patience. The Bible says it like this: “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
Jesus’ patience paid off.
Do you remember who was sent to the Samaria of Acts 8?
Peter and here it is . . . John. The man who was playing with judgment fire. Jesus was patient with him, and two years after Jesus’ rebuke, John returned to the same city. This time he did get to call down fire, the right kind of fire— Pentecostal, Holy-Spirit-baptism fire. And instead of a people being judged, they were filled with God.
Thank you, God, for your rebukes.
Thank you, John, that you listened.
And now the right fire came to Samaria.