Read: Acts 8:26-31 NRSV
Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.
Philip responded to the angel’s command to GO! He was obedient despite the angel sending him into the wilderness. He was obedient despite the angel telling him to sit with a gentile. He was obedient despite the angel telling him to sit with one man.
Earlier in the book of Acts we read accounts of Peter and the other disciples preaching before crowds of thousands, with mass conversions and signs and wonders. The story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch seems anticlimactic in comparison. Sure, there is a minor miracle after the baptism where Philip gets spirited away, but why even bother including this story when earthquakes and breaking open prison doors and Peter is bringing back people from the dead?
Perhaps the conversion of the Ethiopian is meant to illustrate that our mission to preach this gospel “to the ends of the earth” is meant to be taken seriously. Sharing the gospel with all people not only means everybody, but also anybody, including a solitary man on his way home.
As we continue through the book of Acts, we will see that the early church almost immediately began to put up barriers between those who they believed could receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit and those who could not. This simple story of one man sharing the story of Jesus with another man shows us true mission work.
And now we can follow in Philip’s footsteps: GO! And do the same.