26Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship28and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.”
30So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 32Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. 33In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus.
36As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?”38He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. Acts 8:26-40
I love this story. God sending Philip out into the middle of nowhere to find an African eunuch reading Isaiah while traveling home after a visit to Jerusalem – that is just crazy. A one in a million shot in the dark. One person would say, “merely a coincidence”; a person of faith might say, “obviously a God-incident.”
Look back at your own life. Look back at the chance encounters, the little comments here and then, the people who float through your life. Look back and you will see a chain of strange events that have marked you, that still dog you, that make you who you are.
Can you see God at work through all of it?
The Ethiopian is intrigued by his reading. He is informed but without understanding. He had worshipped at Jerusalem (that is, like visiting the Empire State Building in New York, what you do when you are there) but he remained an outsider. Eunuchs aren’t allowed in the inner circles of the temple. He no doubt “stuck out” as a black man. And now he finds himself reading about another man who “in his humiliation justice was denied him.”
And to this man, God sends Philip. There is water. There is baptism. There is new life. There is an amazing story.
Who has been Philip in your life? Who has helped you, not just more clearly see Jesus, but more clearly see the Jesus who loves YOU?
Let us pray: Thank you, gracious Lord, for the mysterious ways that you weave through our lives. The surprising encounters, the revealing conversations, the voices of those who offer us guidance and encouragement. In Jesus’ name. Amen.