The Fifth Sunday of Easter – Getting ready to receive Good News (The substituted Acts Passage)

The reader is to understand, beloved reader, that this passage from Acts is part of the ongoing story of how the Early Christian Church grew and spread their faith.

Then 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.) So 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 worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now 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.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As 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?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. “ (Act 8:26-38)

When I sat down to write about this passage, I was not in a good mood. The trials and challenges of the day still hung heavily on me, and I was weary. I was not ready to talk/write about the good news that Philip passed on to the Ethiopian. And indeed, I wondered if I would be able to write anything at all.

I subscribe to one, and only one, online blog. And the entry there for today broke through my mood and broke open my heart. In an instant I was readied to consider this passage and the faith implications.

The Ethiopian was also ready and readied to hear the interpretation of the scripture he was reading and that Philip explained to him. And Philip was ready, having been told to go to a certain place by the Spirit. But there must have been work done in Philip before, since he so easily obeyed the Spirit and the prompting to engage the Ethiopian in conversation – not to mention the knowledge and words to explain the scripture. So successful was Philip that the Ethiopian desired and accepted baptism. The story continues.

When 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. But 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. (Verses 38-40)

The Spirit was not done with Philip, but carried him away to spread the Good News to other places. When we places ourselves in God’s will and listen to the Spirit, God will use us in the most amazing ways. We just have to open ourselves, or allow ourselves to be opened and remain open. May you, beloved reader, be open or be opened whenever the Spirit calls on you. Selah!