Saturday, 26 September 2015

Bible Reading: Acts 8v26-40 'Invited to join God's mission'

"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 travelled 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 baptised?’ 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised 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 travelled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea."
This Sunday we will be looking at Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.  One of the major things we are reminded of here is that it is not that God gives the church a mission rather he invites us to play our part in his mission.  Christopher Wright puts it this way: "Our mission flows from and participates in the mission of God."  That is particularly clear here as we see God clearly directing Philip in terms of where to go and then in terms of a direction to go up to the chariot and stay close to it.

But we also see it in the way God has been at work in the Ethiopian Eunuch's life long before Philip was directed to go to the desert road.  The Ethiopian Eunuch has a spiritual thirst that he has not been able to satisfy, he has travelled from modern day Sudan to Jerusalem a journey which would have taken months to worship God.  And as he journey's back he is still searching, still scouring scripture, he still has questions, his quest is not over.  In many ways he is the evangelists dream, certainly his question is, when he asks Philip "who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?"  What a great question to ask as you read Isaiah 53?  What a great question to be asked by someone who is spiritually hungry?

Philip is invited by God to be involved in his work of making Jesus known.  Philip is not involved in so much of the work God has been doing but he is called to play his part in the mission of God.  How would thinking like that transform our thoughts on mission and evangelism?  As we share the gospel we are participating with the Almighty missional God empowered by the Spirit not going it alone.

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