Reading for Fifth Sunday of Easter
Peace be with you!
The Lord leads you to places you would not go otherwise. I went to a conference one year without a personal caregiver or a plan as to who would help me eat each meal. I ended having meals with colleagues I would have never thought to ask for help. Because of this, I ended up having important conversations about faith, major life changes, and language around disabilities. I was glad I had listened to the Lord by going where he was sending me.
Philip must have felt the same kind of anxiety when the Lord instructed him to go to Gaza from Jerusalem along the wilderness road (Acts 8:26). Philip must have questioned what he was doing in such a place, especially when the Lord told him to approach an unknown chariot (Acts 8:29), which could have belonged to anyone. Despite any anxiety, Philip went up to the chariot and heard the passenger, an Ethiopian eunuch who was in charge of the queen’s entire treasury, reading Isaiah (Acts 8:27, 30a). As an Ethiopian court official, the eunuch was an outsider—as a foreigner who choose to be castrated to show his loyalty to the queen—to the Jewish ways and was probably not permitted to enter the temple in Jerusalem.
When Philip approaches the chariot, he hears the eunuch reading Isaiah 53:7:
“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” (Acts 8:32-33 NRSV, quoting Isaiah 53:7).
Philip asks the eunuch if he understands what he is reading, and the eunuch tells him he needs instruction to know what the text is saying. The eunuch invites Philip to join him in the chariot (Acts 8:30-31). The eunuch asks if the prophet Isaiah is talking about himself or someone else (Acts 8:34). Philip takes this opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the eunuch (Acts 8:35).
The eunuch is the first recorded African to hear the good news. The Lord commissions Philip to share the good news with a foreigner who is unlike anyone he has encountered before. The physical and psychosocial boundaries of the Jewish traditions no longer apply to the Christian church. The good news is breaking down the boundaries. What prevents the eunuch from fully participating in the Jewish traditions—his heritage— now is not an issue. Everyone (Jews, Catholics, Gentiles, Samaritans, blacks, Caucasians, Indians, Hispanics, and all other people) is able to know God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit through the work of Jesus Christ. In the middle of the wilderness, Philip and the eunuch find water and stop the chariot. Philip baptizes the eunuch. Then Philip disappears, and the eunuch worships the Lord (Acts 8:38-39).
You never know when you are going to get the chance to share the good news with an outsider—someone who does not know the Lord. Introducing someone to the Lord furthers the work of Jesus and spreads the good news across the world. A fifteen minute conversation with a stranger can change the course of their life and the lives of others with whom they then share the good news. When you allow the Lord to work through you, he leads you to amazing places and introduces you to amazing people.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the person who introduced me to you. Lead me to the individuals who need to hear the good news. Open my heart and mind to your plan for my life. Help me to step out in faith. Thank you for the many ways you use me to further Jesus’s work. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- Who introduced you to the Lord? Write them a thank you note.
- Where is the Lord leading you?