Acts 8: 30 – 31: Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the (Ethiopian) man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So, he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
“Do you understand what
you are reading?” Philip asked. The Ethiopian official did not, and he
asked for help from this unknown preacher who appeared next to his chariot in
Then Philip, sent to guide a
lonely seeker, explained the scripture the man was reading from Isaiah 53:7-8,
sharing with him the good news of Jesus.
The prophecy about Jesus the
man was reading, was one of the most important passages for early Christians. It
is part of Isaiah's fourth Servant Song, describing the mysterious
figure who was slaughtered and humiliated and whose life was "taken away
from the earth," as Luke gives the text to us in Acts 8.
So, to the official's
question about whom this servant is, Philip could eagerly reply that it is no
one else but the resurrected Jesus. And like Jesus before him on the road to
Emmaus (Lk 24), Philip proceeded to speak, "and starting with this
scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus" (8:35).
In joyful response, the Ethiopian
asked Philip to baptize him into this faith of Jesus. And in verse 38, "both
of them, Philip and the official went down into the water, and he (Philip)
Then we read that the
official “went on his way rejoicing.” (Verse 39)
The good news of Jesus
always calls for a response: one of gratitude, public profession of faith,
receiving baptism and experiencing great joy. This is exactly what the
Ethiopian did. He had been in Jerusalem to worship God - but without
understanding the Gospel. Now he understood and believed in Jesus Christ, the
Son of God, as Lord and Saviour.
How much more should we who
have heard the gospel during our whole lives and were baptised as infants,
confess our faith, proclaim the gospel, live new lives, and rejoice in the
goodness of God? How much more should we
carry the good news of Jesus back to our families, friends, neighbours, schools,
and workplaces, for all to know and to believe?
We too are sent to ask the
seekers that cross our path:
“Do you understand what you
And “do you believe the good
news of Jesus?”