I've spent my entire life in church, so I've heard the story of Philip and the Ethiopian many, many times. You can find it in Acts 8:26-40. My interest usually focused on the last part of the passage where God whisks Philip away and puts him in a completely different location. I mean, that's just pretty cool, don't you think? But the real "meat" of the story, however, is Philip's encounter with someone who was seeking the Truth.
In a nutshell, Philip, one of Jesus' disciples, was traveling around preaching the Good News after Jesus' death and resurrection. While he was out and about, an angel of the Lord told him to go south to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza. He obeyed and found a man in a chariot. This man was an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of Ethiopia. The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay by it." (v. 29)
What happens next in the story is really what being a servant of the Lord Most High is all about.
Philip did as he was told and found an Ethiopian man reading from the text of Isaiah the prophet, specifically the text found in Isaiah 53:7,8. This passage tells about the Messiah, the Lamb of God, who would be led like a sheep to the slaughter. The Ethiopian didn't understand it. He asked Philip, "Is the prophet talking about himself or someone else?" That question opened the door for Philip to share the Good News about Jesus with this man.
That, my friends, is exactly what every believer in Jesus Christ is called to do!
The world is our Ethiopian. There are thousands upon thousands of people out there who have a little bit of the truth--like the Ethiopian had a little bit of text from Isaiah--but they don't understand it. They need Philip's to come along and share the Good News. They need Philip's to fill in the blanks, to right the wrong beliefs, to show them who the Lamb truly is.
Now, before you think I'm getting all high and mighty, thinkin' I have all the answers and I'm Ms. Smarty Pants...don't. I speak as one who used to be the Ethiopian. I had a little bit of truth. And that was fine for a time. But there came a point in my life where I knew I needed more. I knew I wanted more. Just like the Ethiopian, I wasn't satisfied with simply reading the words. I craved understanding. And just like the Ethiopian (v. 39), when that understanding came in 1992, I rejoiced!! I was baptized! I came into the most beautiful, personal, wonderful, amazing relationship with Jesus Christ who is Lord of Lords, King of Kings!
I want everyone I know to have that experience! I want everyone I know--and everyone I don't know!!--to understand who Jesus is and what He did for us! Jesus Christ is God. In his own words in Revelation 22:13, Jesus says, "I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." No one else could be the Beginning and the End but God himself. No one else could take away the sin of the world but God. That's what Jesus did when he hung on the cross, his blood spilling out for you and me.
I don't want to miss a "Philip" opportunity to share the Good News. I don't want to pass by the Ethiopian.
So, I learned something new about myself.
I want to be like Philip. Who knew?
To hear an awesome message on Philip and the Ethiopian from Pastor Joe Champion of Celebration Church, go here and click on Online Sermons (March 21). You will be inspired just like I was!