The day had begun like most did for the Sorcerer. He slept in because he could afford to. When he had woken late in the morning and had his breakfast he gathered his bag of instruments and tools and headed to the local market to conjure up a crowd. Business had declined some of late, but the Sorcerer could still count on a steady flow of Egyptian, Ethiopian, Greek and Roman merchants visiting the city who would be more than willing to pay him for his unique services.
Although the Sorcerer had no governmental post, and technically no official authority, he enjoyed immense local power. He was the manifestation of the power of God himself to these people and he loved his title “The Great Sorcerer” more than he loved anything else he owned.
The Sorcerer’s magic had cost him everything he owned to obtain, however, his riches had multiplied a hundredfold since his first “mystical presentation” in the market several years before.
As the Sorcerer drew near to the market he could see and hear a large mass of people huddling in from all directions to hear the words of a poorly dressed Jewish man yelling from on top of a merchant’s booth. The Sorcerer joined the audience, asking the men nearest him what this was about.
Their reply was ridiculous. “He just healed a lame man and is saying he is friends with the Son of God”.
The Sorcerer sneered to himself skeptically. “I am the Sorcerer, I converse with spirits, and speak the future. I can read secrets in men’s eyes and can cause objects to float, but even I cannot heal a lame man. Childish fools”.
The Sorcerer’s skin crawled with jealousy as the crowd continued to grow, pushing in to see, hear, and touch the man. He shifted his searing glances from the masses to the man and measured him for the first time. If there was to be another magician in town, he felt it shrewd to get a good read on the competition.
Although the speaker was over fifty yards away and surrounded by screaming, moaning, and shouting men, women and children, the Sorcerer could hear the man’s words as if he were standing next to him. The man didn’t appear to be yelling, rather speaking calmly and smiling with a gleam of boyish happiness in his eyes. Though the volume trick impressed the Sorcerer (and disturbed him because he didn’t share in the secret), he was most taken back by the stupid smile.
When the Sorcerer performed his sorcerous magic, his chosen posture was one of physical power and dominant authority and he practiced his trade with a continual expression of contempt, ranging from sneer to scowl. His audiences found it disturbing, powerful, and terrifying, which suited his dark desires.
But this so called healing magician smiled and was talking about sin and love.
A voice filled with warmth, depth, power and authority physically shook him out of his power lusting imaginings of obtaining healing powers himself.
“Simon, listen now!” the invisible voice invisibly thundered.
The Sorcerer fixed his eyes and ears on the man and saw the speaker pull a reaching man up to the platform. The Sorcerer immediately recognized the man, a local beggar named Ahab, blinded by wild sparks from a fire that burned down a large portion of the town earlier that year. The new magician turned the blind man’s face to his, so close that their noses touched, and then embraced him. The speaker called out “What I do, I do in the name of Jesus. Not by the power of dark spirits. Not by the wisdom of our fathers. Not by the manipulation of Sorcery. But in the name of Jesus Christ the Son of God…see!”
Instantly Ahab began blinking and shouting “I can see! I can see! I’m healed, and I can see!”
The speaker embraced the newly in-sighted Ahab again with a joyful hug and turned back to the crowd leaving one arm still draped around Ahab’s back with his hand clutching Ahab’s shoulder.
“My name is Philip. I have been sent here by Jesus, the Son of God, to proclaim the forgiveness of sins and resurrection from the dead!”
The Sorcerer was the most powerful magician in the land. This was not Sorcery. Sorcery has certain trappings, phrases, and postures that accompany her; this healing had none of them. Sorcery has an odor. This healing had a fragrance. Sorcery has confusion. This healing had simplicity. Sorcery screams. The healing sang.
A burning pang of guilt pierced the Sorcerer down into his gut and shame had access to his emotions for the first time in years.
The Sorcerer shoved the uncomfortable feelings aside with an equal amount of force as he was using on the people around him in-order to thrust himself to the front of the crowd to touch Philip. He must touch this man, to feel his power himself.
“Simon, believe!” the invisible voice invisibly commanded.
Philip spoke patiently to the throbbing crowd, “If anyone wishes to worship God in spirit and in truth, they must confess their sins and believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that God raised him from the dead. Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and witness the coming of the Kingdom of God”.
The Sorcerer found himself swept up in the emotion of the crowd and joined in the confused mass movement. Dust hovered and swirled lazily in the still air as thousands of excited feet hurried down the southern road leading out of the city to the lake. The people half carried, half pushed Philip with them in their frenzied desire to reach the water and receive the baptism of Jesus.
The Sorcerer had never been one to get stuck in tradition and found himself a willing participant in the wave of excited belief. After all he was a practical man (magical, but practical nonetheless) and could join in the trending behavior “whole heartedly”.
The next days were a blur of excitement, healing, and joy for the people of Samaria. They learned more and more the message of Jesus and continued to receive both physical and spiritual healing as Philip continued to tirelessly pray over them and lay hands on their sick and dying.
The Sorcerer was now going by Simon. Philip had said that this would be best for everyone.
Simon was equally happy and resentful. A war raged inside of his soul. Half of him desired this new joyful spiritual peace. Half of him craved control over this new spiritual power. Some mornings Simon would wake. Some mornings the Sorcerer woke. Either way, he had confessed his belief publicly. And he did believe. And he was baptized. And he still thirsted for power.
Late in the evening on one of these days a new group of Jewish men arrived. Among them were Peter and John, whom Philip submitted his platform of authority to immediately and with joy. This in and of itself was a confusing posture to Simon the former Sorcerer. It seemed a little weak and pathetic, considering Philip had done all the heavy spiritual lifting in Samaria. He decided he would let Philip know that this was an unneeded and pitiful social move for him to make when he got a private moment with him.
Peter spoke that night to the gathered crowd of new believers. He taught in depth about God’s Holy Spirit, a subject that Philip had only begun to touch on. At the end of his teaching Peter, and the other Jewish believers among them, laid their hands on the people and they received the Holy Spirit for the first time.
Greed flooded the Sorcerer’s heart. This was a power to be coveted more than healing power, for eventually even those healed of sickness would die of old age. But to gain the power of laying hands on people and calling down the Holy Spirit from heaven at will? Now this was an authority to be desired.
Once again shame poured into the depths of his emotions and once again the control desiring, power lusting magician smashed the feeling aside as he shoved his way excitedly through the crowd towards Peter.
Simon, the maybe Sorcerer, maybe not, waited impatiently as Peter finished praying over a small child at his feet. At the conclusion of Peter’s intercession, the Sorcerer pulled Peter close to him and whispered in his ear, “this whole new Jesus Kingdom building operation will cost more money than can possibly be imagined. I’m a wealthy man. Give me the power to lay hands on people and to give the Holy Spirit to whom I desire, and I will give you my riches”.
Peter was the rare man that money has absolutely no hold on. It did at one point in his life, but the combination of Jesus’ teachings on money (especially the teaching where Jesus said you either worship God or money) and the experience of Judas betraying the living God for silver coins had violently rooted this out of him. And so, because money had less hold on Peter than just about any other living man on earth, he was able to see the Sorcerer for the lonely, and insecure man he was.
The story ends like that of Jonah; a giant unanswered question. What did the Sorcerer choose? Did he perish with his silver? Or did he repent and lose control gaining his soul?