SIMON MAGUS LIVED in Samaria and was the Houdini of his day. He made small boys climb ropes and disappear. He sawed pretty girls in half. He pulled rabbits out of hats and levitated volunteers from the audience. And he made a good thing of it too. He got top billing, drove a BMW convertible to work, and wore nothing but silk next to his skin.
Then one day Philip came to town on a preaching junket, and Simon Magus got religion in a big way. When the altar call was given, he was the first to come forward. He then got himself baptized, and Philip added him to the team.
After a while the apostle Peter came down from the head office in Jerusalem to see how things were going, and before he was through, he conferred the power of healing on some of them by laying his hands on their heads. The healings struck Simon Magus as the most spectacular trick he had ever seen in his life, and he offered Peter hard cash if he'd lay his hands on him.
God didn't belong to the magicians' union, Peter told him, and as for the hard cash, he knew what he could do with it. He said that maybe if Simon Magus repented, God would overlook what had happened, but he didn't make the prospects sound too hopeful. There might still be hell to pay.
Knowing when he'd been upstaged, Simon Magus begged Peter to use his influence with the Lord to get him off the hook and then steered clear of the old fisherman for the remainder of his visit.