Acts 8:26-40 (ESV)
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 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 before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”
34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Day 1: Loving God
Isaiah 56:3-7 promises that, on the day of salvation, God will include even the formerly excluded foreigner and the childless eunuch in His covenant blessings—that the foreigner would not be “separate … from his people” and that the eunuch will be given “a monument and a name better than sons and daughters.” This prophecy is fulfilled in the conversion of this Ethiopian eunuch.
Ethiopia was considered in the ancient world to be the Southern “end” of the inhabited world, and one of the most commonly noted features of Ethiopians in Ancient literature was their black skin color (Jer. 13:23). So this man was as foreign as he can possibly be, and Ezekiel 44:7 prohibited “admitting foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, to be in [God’s] sanctuary, profaning [His] temple.”
Furthermore, the man was a eunuch. Many nations in the Ancient world prefer to have castrated males serving in the royal courts, to ensure that they weren’t sexually tampering with the dynastic line. So this Ethiopian man had been castrated, and Deuteronomy 23:1 specified, “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD.” So this Ethiopian eunuch was doubly an outsider.
And yet, because Jesus breaks down the dividing wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles on the cross (Eph. 2:11-22), because Jesus tore down all that stood as a barrier between God and man on the cross. So, then, “What prevents me from being baptized?” (v. 37). The answer is nothing! Absolutely nothing! Is there anything that is keeping you from living in the good of God’s mercy? Do you have a hard time believing that God really is as gracious as the gospel of Jesus Christ tells us He is?
Confess the ways in which you have thought of God as severe and harsh, and praise God for the specific ways in which He has been gracious and merciful to you.
Pray for the Spirit’s power to overcome specific sins that have been bringing you guilt and shame.
Pray that God would give you faith and boldness to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
Recommended Song: “Let Your Blood Plead for Me” by Sojourn
Day 2: Loving One Another
Baptism signifies and confirms the washing away of guilt and the purifying of our conscience (1 Pet. 3:21). It represents our union with Christ in His death and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-4). It demonstrates our inclusion in the covenant community of God. So it says in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.“ When we are baptized, we become members of the “one body” of Christ, the universal, Apostolic Church. By baptizing this Ethiopian eunuch, Philip is showing us that this man, too, is a full member of the body of Christ.
Pray that God would increase your love for the church, especially those who are unlike you.
Pray that those who are on the margins and hesitant to become members, get baptized, and/or commit fully to the church would take the step of faith to do so.
Pray that we would “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” by walking “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2-3).
Pray for a long-term, suitable, affordable meeting space in East Cambridge, where we can worship together on Sunday mornings.
Recommended Song: “Behold the Lamb” by Stuart Townend
Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors
Immediately after Philip baptizes the Ethiopian eunuch. It says in verses 39-40, “And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.” Philip is whisked away by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel in other regions, which means, this Ethiopian eunuch was the sole visible reason why the Spirit of God commanded him to leave the city of Samaria, where he was enjoying incredible missionary success, to leave Jerusalem where the Apostles were, and go to the middle of a “desert place” to run after a chariot. Like the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:1-7, where the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep in the “open country” in order to “go after the one that is lost, until he finds it,” this narrative reveals the heart of God for the lost.
The angel of the Lord said to Philip in verse 26, “Rise and go,” and it says in verse 27 that “he rose and went.” The Spirit said to Philip in verse 29, “Go over and join this chariot,” and it says in verse 30 that “Philip ran to him.” This pattern highlights the authority of God’s commands and the promptness of Philip’s obedience. Will you also rise up and go to share the good news of Jesus Christ?
Pray that God would send out more laborers into the harvest, both here and abroad, especially, this month, for Kosovo, a nation we have been praying for throughout May.
Pray by name for your unbelieving family members, friends, and neighbors. Pray that you might be filled with the Holy Spirit to bear bold witness to Jesus.
Pray that the Spirit of God would direct our church as we plan outreaches, evangelize, and send missionaries. Pray for the Spirit’s leading for Bailey, Mariah, and Mattea, as they take steps toward full-time, foreign missions work.
Recommended Song: “The Lord Is My Salvation” by Keith and Kristyn Getty