Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. – Acts 8:35
One of my favorite lesser known people in the Bible is Philip. Philip, who was a different Philip than the Apostle Philip, was preaching Christ at a time when Saul was heavily persecuting believers in Jerusalem. In verse three we find that Saul “…made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragged off men and women, committing them to prison.” Stephen was recently martyred, and Christians were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Needless to say, it was not a popular time to be a Christian! Yet, verse four says that “those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” First of all, I can’t tell you how humbling it is that Christians, while literally being driven out of their home, were still spreading the gospel. What’s more humbling is that multitudes were coming to know the Lord despite these potential severe consequences! These costs were way worse than a person’s YouTube channel being demonetized or losing friends on social media because of too many “Jesus posts.” And Philip was right in the mix of it, which is the first reason why I admire him.
While in Samaria, we see in verse 26, the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, telling him to arise and go “south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” Then says, simply, “This is desert.” I love that. Basically, I take this to mean that Philip gets woken up in the middle of the night to tell him to leave his fruitful ministry leading people to Christ with his buddies to start traveling alone without an actual destination, in a dry, barren, scorching hot desert, for an undetermined amount of time without any explanation. The second reason why I love is Philip. I can barely get out of bed when God wakes me up to go to a fitness class! And I will be home and drinking coffee in than an hour.
In spite of being woken up out of bed to leave his successful career and to go to this undisclosed location, Philip goes. While traveling, he sees an Ethiopian eunuch on the side of the road reading out loud. We find out that this eunuch was in charge of all the treasury of the Ethiopian queen so we can infer that he a wealthy, incredibly intelligent man. The Spirit tells Philip to go near and overtake the chariot. ‘Overtake’ in this verse means “to glue, that is to stick- cleave, join oneself.” So, Philip just didn’t go to the chariot, he RAN! When he approached it, he didn’t just start off with random small talk or apologizing for approaching him in such an abrupt manner (which is probably what I would do). He first observed the man, and, seeing that he was reading a passage from Isaiah, asked him if he understood it. He didn’t even attempt to impress this wealthy man with all his wisdom and understanding by bragging about al he knew of the passage. The third reason why I love this guy!
BUT, the thing that I most admire about Philip is not for any of these reasons.
Philip and the eunuch have a short dialogue, and the eunuch asks Philip to whom is Isaiah referring. Verse 35 is what hits me right between the eyes. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” At first you may breeze right past this and move on to the next verse. It stops me right in my tracks though. I can’t get over how Philip, despite all of his knowledge, despite all of the miracles that he has done in the name of Christ, didn’t inundate him with stories and details. He simply met the eunuch where he was. Not only literally in the middle of nowhere, but figuratively and spiritually. The only Christ the eunuch knew was contained on this small section of a scroll from Isaiah. And that’s what Philip went off of.
“…Beginning at this Scripture, he preached Jesus to him.” I read this phrase over and over again and still I can’t wrap my head around it. What would I have said if that were me and a modern-day Ethiopian eunuch type was standing in front of me with a murky, fragmented understanding of Christ? What would I say? How would I respond? I know in my experiences of sharing Christ with friends, family and strangers, I, more often than not, meet them where I am. I tell them what Christ is doing in my life, how He is guiding my walk, things I have read recently that touched my heart. And that isn’t wrong, necessarily, but it isn’t always the what people need. As Jesus met the woman at the well and met all of us in our sin, in our murkiness, He teaches us to love people and to see them for who they are in HIM, not who they are in us.
I pray that the Lord teaches me to silence my thoughts and experiences and my insecurities and that He teaches me to meet people where they are at, so they can see Jesus for who He is, their personal Savior, Friend and King, and they can see who they are in Him.