January 5th, 2007
In today’s reading, God orchestrated a meeting between Philip and the Ethiopian official. How else could you explain the fact that the Ethiopian official was not just reading the Bible when Philip met him; he was reading a passage which clearly predicted the coming of Jesus: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. Just as a lamb before its shearer is silent, he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation, justice was taken away. Who will talk about his descendants? Because his life is taken from the earth.” What better introduction could a follower of Jesus possibly have asked for?
The Acts of the Apostles — Chapter 8
8:1 Saul consented to Stephen’s death. A wave of persecution began on that day against the church in Jerusalem. All except for the apostles were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. 8:2 Devout men buried Stephen, and lamented greatly over him. 8:3 But Saul was devastating the church, going into every house, and dragging both men and women off to prison. 8:4 Those who had been scattered went around preaching the message. 8:5 Philip went to the city of Samaria, and told them about the Christ. 8:6 The crowds listened eagerly to the things that Philip said, when they heard and saw the miraculous signs which he did. 8:7 Unclean spirits were cast out of many people who had them. They came out with a shout. Many people who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. 8:8 There was great joy in that city.
8:9 But there was one man named Simon, who used to practise sorcery in the city. He had amazed the people of Samaria, making himself out to be someone great. 8:10 They had all, from the least to the greatest, listened to him saying, “This man is that great power of God.” 8:11 They listened to him, because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 8:12 But when they believed Philip’s good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 8:13 Simon himself believed. He was baptized, and followed Philip around. He was amazed when he saw signs and great miracles occurring.
8:14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the message of God, they sent Peter and John to them 8:15 When they arrived, Peter and John prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit, 8:16 as the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen on any of them. They had only been baptized in the name of Christ Jesus. 8:17 Then they placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 8:18 When Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given when the apostles placed their hands on people, he offered them money, 8:19 saying, “Give me this power, so that anyone I place my hands on can receive the Holy Spirit.” 8:20 But Peter said to him, “I hope your money dies with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 8:21 You can have no part in this, because your heart isn’t right before God. 8:22 Repent of your wickedness, and ask God if your wicked thought can be forgiven. 8:23 I see that you are full of bitterness and a slave of sin.” 8:24 Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that none of the things which you have said happen to me.”
8:25 When they had testified and spoken the message of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, on the way preaching the good news in many Samaritan villages.
8:26 An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, “Get up and head towards the south on the road that goes through the desert from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 8:27 He got up and went. An Ethiopian man was there. He was a eunuch who held an important position reporting to Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. He was in charge of all her finances, and had come to Jerusalem to worship. 8:28 He was returning and was reading the prophet Isaiah while sitting in his chariot.
8:29 The Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and meet this chariot.” 8:30 Philip ran up to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 8:31 He said, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” He asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 8:32 Now the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this, “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. Just as a lamb before its shearer is silent, he did not open his mouth. 8:33 In his humiliation, justice was taken away. Who will talk about his descendants? Because his life is taken from the earth.”
8:34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Who is the prophet talking about? About himself, or about someone else?” 8:35 Philip started from this Scripture, and explained Jesus to him. 8:36 As they went along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Here is some water. What is stopping me from getting baptized?” 8:38 He ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went into the water, and he baptized him.
8:39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, but went on his way rejoicing. 8:40 But Philip found himself at Azotus. Passing through, he preached the good news in all the towns, until he came to Caesarea.
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