even simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with philip. and seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed. [acts 8:13]
simon believed…in what?
did simon truly believe in Jesus’ name, as the son of the one true God and the only savior from the sin for which he deserved death? did he simply believe that the miracles Jesus’ followers did were greater than the signs he performed? did simon believe that Jesus was just one of many deities from whom he could benefit from paying homage?
we will probably never know for sure this side of heaven, but we can take a sobering truth from this about our belief.
our faith in Jesus will not endure if it is based on what benefits us most today.
Jesus is not just the savior of sinners; he is Lord and King over them. i am reminded of samuel’s warning to israel when they asked God to give them a king:
so samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. he said, “these will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. he will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. he will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. he will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. he will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. he will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. and in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” [1 samuel 8:10-18]
it was a perversion for israel to ask for a king, because God was their king. and samuel’s foretelling that they would cry out to the Lord because of their king came true because no mere man can serve as king and not hurt his people in his sin. we see throughout israel’s history the cost of their error – israel went through around 2,500 years of exile and scattering.
while it showed a lack of submission to and trust in God for them to ask for a king, samuel’s description of what a king will do doesn’t actually include any sins or mistakes on the king’s part—that’s just what kings do. and so when we say—as we only can by the Spirit (1 cor. 12:3)—Jesus Christ is Lord, we are submitting ourselves to the kingship of the Son of God.
how does this apply to simon? simon “believed” when it meant getting to follow men with great power—he “believed” when it seemed to benefit him the most. but following a king doesn’t just mean parading with him in the streets after a victorious battle—it has a cost. when we trust that our King Jesus knows best (and he does know best!) we will find peace, and in due season reap in his harvest; but our trust is fickle. when we lack trust, we are still called to obedience to a sovereign who does not bend the knee to anyone, and does not always explain his plans.
from simon we can learn this: God does not only ask our obedience when it benefits us: he desires to bring every aspect of our thoughts, motives, and lives under his kingship. he is gentle and lowly, yes, but he is no pushover—no cash cow to be manipulated for our own gain. he is to be feared and loved—and that so rapturously.
~ stephen hall