Acts 8:4-8, 12, 26-36, 38-40 (NLT)
“But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went. Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.
But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized.
As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.” Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.
The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.
As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus. He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea.” (V 26-36, 38-40)
As we (the folks in our Bible Study group) read this story, we talked about the things Philip didn’t do. These thoughts stayed with me so much, I had to share. Often as we walk through our lives, we are called to do things for God. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. When we don’t, we make excuses. I can say “we” because I’ve talked to enough people to know this is definitely a “we” problem.
Philip didn’t do that. Here are some of the other things he didn’t do.
- Philip was in the middle of a revival. He performed miraculous signs. He cast out evil spirits, healed the lame, people listened to him and accepted the Good News of Jesus. The city was filled with joy and people were hungry to hear more. Many were baptized. When God called Philip (v 26), Philip went. He didn’t say “I have this ministry going here. I can’t go there.” He didn’t insert his agenda into God’s plan. He heard God call and he immediately left.
- God told him to go and join the Ethiopian. Philip didn’t make excuses about the cultural differences that would get in the way…he was different after all, from a different country, probably spoke a different language. He didn’t talk about the social differences….how the guy was an official in the Queen’s court or that he was in a chariot and Philip was on foot. He didn’t see the differences between him and the Ethiopian. He saw a man that Jesus wanted him to connect with, so Philip ran to him.
- When he heard the Ethiopian reading from Isaiah, he engaged him asking questions. He didn’t assume he knew what the Ethiopian needed. He sought to understand.
- When he asked if he understood what he was reading, the Ethiopian said, “How can I understand it if someone doesn’t explain it to me?” Philip joined him in the carriage and began to unpack the truth of Jesus to this man. He didn’t say “You know, I am not educated and really, I am sure there is someone who knows this better than I do. Maybe you should ask them.” He didn’t let his thoughts about his capabilities deter him from his calling. He stepped into this role, given to him by Jesus, and trusted the Holy Spirit to help him.
- After Philip explained everything to the Ethiopian, the Ethiopian requested to be baptized. Now. Philip didn’t flinch. He didn’t question whether he was ready, he didn’t make him study further. He stopped and baptized him.
- Afterward, God swept Philip away to continue his service where God needed him. Philip continued to evangelize and minister to people for the rest of his life. He didn’t talk to God about his schedule. He didn’t tell him he’d really done a lot lately and maybe he needed a break. He went. He obeyed. It was his life.
What’s my takeaway from this story? I can only pray that I, like Philip, pour my all into following Jesus. No excuses. No whining. Trusting that God is going to be faithful to His promises. I can ask him to grow my belief in who He is so that nothing stops me from His mission. I worry too much about how it’s going to work out instead of trusting, like Philip, that Jesus has this. My job is to obey.
What about you? What did the Holy Spirit say to you as you read this story?
What are you going to do about it?