There Was An Ethiopian

When we open our Bibles to the eighth chapter of the book of Acts, we find in verses 26-27 that “an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is a desert place. And he rose and went.”

When Philip arrived in that place, this is what he found: “an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah” (Acts 8:27-28). The angel led Philip to a man who was obviously religious and mostly acquainted with the Word of God. The Holy Spirit then told Philip “Go over and join this chariot” (Acts 8:29).

So we have an Ethiopian man traveling down the road, going about his way, reading from the Scriptures and Philip, a total stranger to the Ethiopian I’m sure, is about to stop his chariot and interrupt his reading. “Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?'” (Acts 8:30). Now the Ethiopian could have been offended by Philip’s question, after all the eunuch was a high-standing individual, intelligent, and important. He certainly could have brushed Philip off with a “of course I understand it!” But, he didn’t. This is what he said: “‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: ‘Like a sheep He was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opens not His mouth. In His humiliation justice was denied Him. Who can describe His generation? For His life is taken away from the earth.’ And the eunuch said to Philip, ‘About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?'” (Acts 8:31-34). The Ethiopian was honest and willing to ask for help in his studies. He could have just guessed what his own opinion was and stuck with that, but he was unwilling to do so. He didn’t know who it was talking about. He was willing to study and inquire.

So what did Philip do? “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35). We do not know exactly what Philip said, but seeing that it was the good news of Jesus Christ then we can be sure that Philip taught him that the man spoken of by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 53 is Jesus. He taught him about how Jesus came to this earth, born of a virgin. He told him about Jesus’ teachings, power, and love. He taught him about how Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world and how God the Father raised Him from the dead. Philip obviously taught the eunuch about having faith in Jesus and being baptized in water for the forgiveness of sins based on what happened next:

“And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he replied, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:36-39).

The Ethiopian went on his way rejoicing! Why? Because he had just been taught the wonderful news of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. He believed the good news of Jesus. And he obeyed the good news of Jesus by believing on Him and being baptized into Christ. He certainly had much to rejoice about, as do all who hear, believe, and obey the good news of Jesus Christ.

Are you rejoicing because you have obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ? If so, give thanks to God for His wonderful love and mercy! If not, I ask this, what hinders you from believing and being baptized like the Ethiopian was? You too can obey the gospel and go your way rejoicing. If you believe and have faith in Jesus, then heed the words spoken to Paul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16).


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