Monday, April 14, 2014

The lesson of the Eunuch

Acts 8:26-40

   To what extent is our Lord willing to go to save just one soul?  How important is it to listen to the Holy Spirit in guiding our ministry to others? And, just how amazing is God's perfect timing in finding fulfillment of his grand purpose for the lives of mankind: That he wants all to be saved?  Let us take a quick look at the account of Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch - the insight into how our Lord and Creator works his hand in guiding our ministry and his will is highlighted here for our benefit.

 
  Phillip is heading from the region of Samaria to Jerusalem, a beeline distance of around 35 miles. For an average walking pace - it would take around a day and a half.  He just left the area and was heading towards Jerusalem with Peter and John in tow.  They had just done some amazing things in the Lord, baptizing many who had heard and accepted the gospel.  In fact, the conversion of Simon in this area was remarkable - he had "amazed all the people of Samaria...both high and low" with his powerful acts of magic and sorcery, and had a large following. (Acts 8:9,10)  The signs and miracles and ministry they performed must have been something to see.  The many followers of Simon the magician were baptized after they heard the good news of the kingdom and Christ Jesus. In fact, Simon began to follow Phillip everywhere he went - going from being followed to a follower,  just like that. As the three of them neared Jerusalem, an angel spoke to Phillip, commanding him to take the road south from Jerusalem towards Gaza, another 47 miles.  He was to catch up with a eunuch traveling the same direction on a chariot.  This man worked for the queen as a treasurer, and had just left from Jerusalem where he was worshiping.  He just happened to be stopped in his chariot reading from Isaiah, when the Holy Spirit manifested God's awesome plan for this man.  "The Spirit told Phillip, go to that chariot and stay near it."  The angel did not say why, he just said go. This is where the "real magic" happens - God's awesome power in directing his ministers to save lives and ultimately, bring glory to God.

  The eunuch was reading from Isaiah the words  ‘Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer,  so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.'  Phillip, no doubt under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, began to explain to the eunuch who the verse was about, for the eunuch did not know it was the good news about Christ Jesus.  After understanding the truth about Christ and the full meaning of the scriptures he was reading, he was baptized without hesitation. Then, the same spirit that led Phillip to this soul suddenly took Phillip away to another area about 22 miles north, and then he preached his way another 58 miles to Caeserea, stopping at every town along the way.

  Now, lets take a minute and break this down:  Phillip had just been scattered from the church in Jerusalem with many other believers where Saul (soon to be Apostle Paul) had just that very day oversaw the death of Stephen.  From there he traveled down to a city in Samaria and preached to people who all followed a sorcerer;  everyone there soon converted.  The bible does not say how many were baptized in that city in Samaria - but it did say "all the people".  Now from there,  Phillip had to travel around 3 days, give or take a half day, to reach this eunuch.  Would you think after being scattered, then converting a village,  that God was finished with his ministry through Phillip that week? Hardly.  He was guided to separate himself from John and Peter and catch up with a chariot where a royal member of Ethiopia was reading, (just at the right time) the very words about the Christ as mentioned in Isaiah, and Phillip just happened to be led to that very spot, explain the Gospel to this man, baptize him in a body of water that just happened to be there by the road, and then keep on going about his ministry. Is Our God a God of coincidences? How important is our salvation to our Lord? Who can possibly love someone so much that He is willing to navigate time and distance and space and unfortunate circumstances and persecution and then utilize his loyal followers and the Holy Spirit all for the sake of single solitary soul?  Our God is an awesome God.

  Ministry is a difficult manifestation of our faith sometimes.  We know it may be unpopular, but it is not like we just witnessed our brother being stoned to death and then had our entire church scattered over an area of some 500 square miles.  God's Holy Spirit I know compels us at times to approach someone who is needing to hear the Gospel, and I know that you know what I am talking about. Perhaps it is a co-worker, a class mate, or a complete stranger on the street. What if it was a famous sorcerer or modern day royalty? TRUST THAT VOICE!  Our witness to the word of truth is essential dear friends, because lives are at stake. Not just lives, but eternal lives and the salvation of what could be entire families and groups of people that could bear further fruit that we may never get to see ourselves come to fruition all for his praise and glory.  In our silence, we have just our example to be our witness, and for many that is some kind of powerful seed to plant - I am living proof of that.  But too, lets think of Luke 19:40 here: "...Teacher (Jesus), rebuke your disciples.  But Jesus answered, I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out..."  Our ministry does not just confirm our faith - it shares it.  It is a ray of the light of love that Christ Jesus wanted us to share so that others would know the truth, so they too, could be set free.  Are you free?  If you are, then you are also free to share.  Free to live this life fulfilling our great commission.  Our service to God in his ministry may be just helping others, it may be just lending a hand to a neighbor, and for some it may be moving 4,000 miles away in a jungle learning a new language and culture in order to share the truth found in our hope and purpose with others. Whatever our commission is, it should be our mission as well.  We are the light of the world in Christ Jesus.  Whenever, wherever, and however - let that light shine. It can and will make, an eternal difference.