Friday, October 31, 2014

SERMON: On the road from Jerusalem

By DAVID BILDERBACK, Special to The Ottawa Herald | 4/18/2014

In Acts 8:26-40, we read the account of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.

Philip, the evangelist, was one of the seven men chosen to serve the early church because he was full of faith and the Holy Spirit. Following the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, many Christians scattered from Jerusalem. Philip became an evangelist in Samaria and preached the gospel, worked miracles and brought many to faith in Christ.

In Acts 8:26-40, we read the account of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.

Philip, the evangelist, was one of the seven men chosen to serve the early church because he was full of faith and the Holy Spirit. Following the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, many Christians scattered from Jerusalem. Philip became an evangelist in Samaria and preached the gospel, worked miracles and brought many to faith in Christ.

In Acts Chapter 8, an angel of the Lord told Philip to go south to the desert road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. On the way, Philip meets an Ethiopian who is traveling back home after visiting Jerusalem. The man was reading from the book of Isaiah the Prophet and was confused whether the Prophet Isaiah was speaking about himself of someone else. Interestingly enough, he had just left Jerusalem, the religious capital of the known world, and it had never been explained to him.

This created an opportunity for Philip to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the man.

The man was reading in Isaiah 53:7-8, “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”

Philip began with the very scripture the man was reading and told him the good news about Jesus.

The Ethiopian had been to Jerusalem, at least in part searching for answers to some religious questions, for we read he had, “gone to Jerusalem to worship.” At this time, he would not have heard anything about Jesus because most of the Christians had scattered because of persecution from the Jews.

I find it very interesting someone could visit the then-religious capital of the day and come away without the slightest idea about who the Prophet Isaiah was referring to. But God will not leave those who pursue him without help. God moved Philip from Samaria to Gaza for the sole purpose of the salvation of this man and the movement of his word into Ethiopia. After Philip told the man the Good News about Jesus, the man asked to be baptized and then went on his way rejoicing.

If someone does not tell us the Good News about Jesus, we are just like the Ethiopian; we struggle to understand the significance of Jesus. Sometimes the only way people can understand about Jesus is to see the passion we as individuals have for him as well as the compassion we have for others. That is really what Philip revealed to the Ethiopian.

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