In Acts 8:14-25 we see Jesus changing three individuals as they make the right choices to believe, repent and follow Him. And if Jesus changed these people, He will change whoever decides to follow Him.
Peter was a fisherman who decided to follow Jesus. At the cross of Christ, Peter denied knowing Jesus although he had followed Him for three years. Jesus didn’t give up on Peter though. After the resurrection, Jesus went looking for Peter, not to condemn him or judge him, but to renew and restore him. After the ascension of Jesus, Peter stayed in Jerusalem to wait for what Jesus had promised – the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, Peter was used to deliver a basic message (Acts 2) and three thousand people decided to become Christ followers that day. But Peter still has some prejudices in His heart that have to be eliminated so He is one of the Apostles that goes to Samaria to see if it could really be true that Samaritans and not just Jews could become Christ followers. As He sees that it is true, the racial prejudices that have gripped his heart begin to loosen and His heart becomes more like that of Jesus, the One he follows.
The apostle John joins the apostle Peter on this trip to Samaria. John like Peter, had prejudices in His heart that have to be eliminated. It was John who had wanted to call fire from heaven to destroy a village in Samaria when they had rejected Jesus during Jesus’ ministry on earth (Luke 9:51-56). Of course, Jesus rebuked John’s actions teaching John an important lesson at that time and directing his steps to Samaria this time to further purge the prejudices of John’s heart.
It was not by chance or accident that these two men were chosen as the delegation of the apostles to test the authenticity of the new non-Jewish Christ followers. They were following Jesus once again to Samaria. He was directing their every step and was going to bring more change to their heart and way of thinking that would impact their behavior.
Simon was a Samaritan entertainer who had just decided to follow Jesus. He had much to learn and it would require the rebuke of a fellow Christ follower to straighten his walk with Christ. Simon witnessed the effect produced by the laying on of hands, practiced by the apostles Peter and John, and offered them money in order to acquire the same power. Ever since that day, the attempt to turn the spiritual into the commercial has been given the term “simony”. Peter gave Simon a stern rebuke for his actions (Acts 8:23-24) and Simon’s motives were checked. He learned a lot about humility and repentance that day.
As Peter and John witnessed the authenticity of non-Jewish people who had become Christ followers, prejudices were broken down in their heart and their way of thinking toward others changed impacting their behavior toward others. On their journey from Jerusalem to Samaria, they did not bother communicating with those in the villages of Samaria. As they left Samaria to return to Jerusalem, they preached the gospel to the villages of the Samaritans (Acts 8:25). Jesus had brought more change to them. They now were looking at people through the eyes of Jesus instead of the eyes of the prejudices that they had learned all their life.
Jesus changes us. He changes our way of thinking towards others. He changes our behavior towards others. He changes us to be more like Him as we continually deny self and follow Him. The best is always yet to come as we follow Jesus on our journey from earth to glory.