This week we’re talking about Pioneer Progress – how the Christian movement reached a tipping point that allowed it to reach beyond its Jewish roots and go viral and go global. Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.  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.  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  and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah.  And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”  So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.  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.  In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?”
At the beginning of Acts, Jesus told his followers to take his good news to four places: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Ends of the Earth.
Last week we explored a story where Philip, one of the early Christian leaders arrived in Samaria, brought joy to their towns, and baptized many converts. The apostles recognized this was a new frontier, reaching non-Jews with the good news, and came to witness it for themselves. This is also where the encounter with Simon happened – a magician who believed, was baptized and ultimately disappointed the apostles with a bribery attempt.
So the gospel, good news of Jesus, has moved from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria.
This week the good news reaches someone from what seemed like the ends of the earth, an Ethiopian Eunuch.
Why a Eunuch? WE know he was a senior civil servant, the Queen’s treasurer. To work that closely with the Queen, he became a Eunuch. That way, he could never take advantage of the Queen and produce royal children. He’s a normally inaccessible person to a guy like Philip, because he’s from a long way away, he’s not a Jew (and Jews had strict rules about who they associated with), and he’s probably well guarded, since he’s the Queen’s money man.
But today, the Eunuch is accessible, beucase he’s a spiritual seeker. He’s been travelling to Jerusalem to visit the temple and worship the God of Isreal, or at least to explore the idea.
He wasn’t Jewish, or even a Jewish proselyte or candidate, and as a eunuch he probably never could be. Jews are marked out by circumcision, and well, anyway.
Regardless of that, God is still a real interest of this man, and he’s reading the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament when Philip catches up to the Eunuch’s chariot, gets past his guards in what I can only imagine is just like the scene where James Bond rides atop of a speeding bullet train.
Philip hears him reading aloud, and offers to help him understand.
Question: List off all the challenges that could have kept Philip and the Eunuch from meeting and having a deep spiritual conversation.
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]