Have you ever had that feeling that you needed to ring someone, or pop round and see them, and you do so only to discover that they needed someone?
Philip and the Ethiopian
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”  38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
Philip was told to set out on the road, the desert road. There is no indication that he was going that way, but he goes. Along the way, he happens upon an important official, sat with the book of Isaiah on his knee, his reading material for the journey.
Philip follows the prompting and asks the official if he understands it. Of course he can’t, he says, unless someone explains it to him.
Aha, so this is what it was all about, the nudge to set out and be on that road. Philip climbs into the official’s carriage and goes on to explain not just that passage, but the whole story of Jesus, what he has done, and what he offers to the official. Now the official gets it, and is keen to be baptised to show it.
This passage is awesome. It has so many “just happens”, but clearly Philip is in the right place at the right time, because he listened to the voice of God.
To me, this account suggests two things:
- when you feel a nudge from God, follow it. He probably has something he needs you to do. Your action is unlikely to be wasted.
- Is there someone out there waiting for you to explain the gospel to them in a way they can understand and respond to?
I’m sure when Philip got up that day he wasn’t expecting it to go that way, but got had other ideas. By listening to God, God was able to use him, and the official found God and his life was changed. He found the answer to his questions.
What has God got planned for you and me today?
Thank you Lord
that you have a task for me to fulfil.
Help me to listen to your nudge in my life,
and to respond.
When people need help,
to grasp your word and your ways,
give me the words to help them,
that they may discover you.