Jesus Creed

Philip.jpgWith Paul looming on the horizon, Philip moves further on and evangelizes another person outside the flock of God: an Ethiopian eunuch. No doubt, a Gentile and probably not a proselyte. No doubt, from the ends of the earth. No doubt, castrated, and eunuchs are unfit for the Temple and, therefore, they have a lower status. Never mind these obstacles with the work of God in this world: the eunuch bumps into God’s grace and his life, as well as the church’s, are changed forever. God is making peace between the peoples — through Christ, through the Spirit, and God is using the gospelers of the earliest church to do just that. Here’s a great text from Acts 8:

8:26 Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) 8:27 So he got up and went. There he met an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship, 8:28 and was returning home, sitting in his chariot, reading the prophet Isaiah. 8:29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 8:30 So Philip ran up to it and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. He asked him, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” 8:31 The man replied, “How in the world can I, unless someone guides me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 8:32 Now the passage of scripture the man was reading was this:

He was led like a sheep to slaughter,

and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.

8:33 In humiliation justice was taken from him.

Who can describe his posterity?

For his life was taken away from the earth.

8:34 Then the eunuch said to Philip, “Please tell me, who is the prophet saying this about – himself or someone else?” 8:35 So Philip started speaking, and beginning with this scripture proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him. 8:36 Now as they were going along the road, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water! What is to stop me from being baptized?” 8:37 [[EMPTY]] 8:38 So he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 8:39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any more, but went on his way rejoicing. 8:40 Philip, however, found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through the area, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

However one wants to explain it, the text tells us that God’s Spirit directed Philip to the eunuch. (By the way, this text has nothing to do with the man’s sexuality, as if it spoke in general of those who were “sexually excluded,” but it speaks of the man’s unfittedness for Temple purity because he was mutilated and blemished. It also does not speak about being single. It speaks, once again of a mutilated person who is deemed unfit for the Temple.)

Talk about ready-made opportunities, and missional agents are ready for them, the eunuch is reading from Isaiah 53 and asks the preeminent question in religion — who is this person? (Jesus) and for the person’s self-identification if the person is missional: “The man replied, “How in the world can I, unless someone guides me?” Missional agents are designed by God to lead folks to the Jesus of the Scriptures. This is how Peter preached the gospel: from OT text to Jesus.

Which is what Philip does: he begins where the man is, in Isaiah and with his questions, and guides him to Jesus and then he guides him to baptism — where he repents and confesses his sin and is forgiven.

Philip is snatched away for more missional work.
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