Rev Janice Aiton
BREAKING NEW BOUNDARIES
In the quiet read the passage and see what speaks to you
ACTS 8: 26-40
Philip and the Ethiopian
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So, he started out, and on his way, he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So, he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”
The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and travelled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
Stay awhile with what word, phrase or image speaks to you
QUALITIES IN PHILIP
For me Philip is a bit of a pioneer here… previously he had reached with the gospel to a Samaritan city and now he is reaching out to a Eunuch. These approaches would have been very radical and lead to revolutionising the church’s thinking and mode of working. Up till this point the apostles had been primarily focussing on the Jews and not to people who would have been regarded as on the margins.
As pioneer and disciple there are certain qualities that stand out for me in Philip
Philip was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s calling
He was sensitive to where the eunuch was in his needs. He begins by asking a question.
Philip was prepared for inconvenience” go south to the desert road, that goes
down from Jerusalem to Gaza”. As a disciple of Christ and pioneer we have
sometimes to stop what we are doing suddenly and go where required. It is all to do
with hospitality of heart and a willingness to serve.
3. Overcoming prejudices and embarrassment.
There world be class barriers and culture barriers here, which Philip and the Eunuch
would need to overcome. In addition, Philip would have to overcome any Jewish
aversion to Eunuchs on account of their condition.
4. Carpe diem moments… seize the day/ seize the moment
Philip takes the opportunity and asks the Eunuch does he understand what he is reading and then with the Eunich’s consent, he shares the gospel with him. Such opportunities are given but perhaps not so quickly or in that special way, but when these opportunities come, we should not shy away from them, but take them gently and graciously and trust God to work accordingly.
5. Use the Bible.
At some point we need to look at Scripture, for it has a power of its own.
6. Confidence in God’s providence
God will provide and accomplish his work.
7. Philip is just a link in the chain in the life of this Eunuch.
Often that is all that is required of us. We are not sure what happened to this Eunuch but history says that the Ethopian Orthodox Church claim this Eunuch as their founder.
In what way has this story challenged you/ helped you or encouraged you?
Loving God, grant us opportunities to witness to others. Open the doors of opportunity
for us and enable us to seize the moment given to us. Give us sensitivity to a person’
needs and grant us confidence in your providence. May we be assured that your Spirit will lead and guide us with great boldness. Amen