Scripture Reading: Acts 8:4-8
“Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ…So there was much joy in that city.” (Acts 8:5,8)
As the early Christians were being scattered, Philip went to the city of Samaria and preached the gospel to the people who lived there (v. 4). A long standing hostility existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews regarded the Samaritans as religious compromisers. In the account of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, John tells us about this hostility: “For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4:9). As Jesus had done earlier, Philip also disregarded this hostility and faithfully preached the gospel to the Samaritans. God was at work among them and many Samaritans believed. Miracles were taking place (vs. 6,7) and there was much joy in the city as a result of the gospel being preached there (v. 8).
The message of the gospel brings joy. Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, God spoke of this joy through Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…You have multiplied the nation,; You have increased its joy” (Isaiah 9:2,3). Years later when the angel announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, he said, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:9). Jesus is the source of this great joy.
As Philip preached the good news to the Samaritans, joy filled their city. This joy is the joy that Jesus promised to give to His people: “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11).
God has made it clear that we can experience joy when we come into His presence: “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). When the Samaritans paid attention to Philip’s preaching, they found Christ and Christ’s joy filled them. These new believers spread the joy of Christ throughout their city.
I’m touched by words found in verse 8: “So there was much joy in that city.” I long for a gospel movement in our cities, where people are coming to Christ and joy is extended throughout their cities.
Lord Jesus, I pray for a fresh movement of the gospel among your people. May we experience Your joy and spread it throughout our cities. Thank You for the joy that You have brought into my life.
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