Theere are several elements of the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch that merit attention for me. One is the fact that the Eunuch was reading Isaiah at all. Why was he doing so? How did he come upon this prophet? How did Philip see what he was reading? Was he looking perplexed and so Philip was led to ask whether he understood what he was reading? And why did he think Philip could explain it to him? So many questions that we can never know the answers to.
I can see this passage as being a key driver for expository preaching. If a “not-yet-believer” knows, or believes, that in the explaining of Scripture life and hope might reside, how much more might those of us believe benefit from gaining greater understanding of Scripture? It was quite neat, however, for Luke in this story to write the narrative in this way. Did this really happen as Luke reports?
If we take this kind of story the wrong way, we can put pressure on ourselves, and on God, perhaps more pertinently, to always speak powerfully for salvation, every time we open our mouths to talk about God. I might lack faith, but I can’t really see that this always happens, however much we feverishly hope and pray that it might do, or manipulate our thoughts and feelings to try and prove that it does.
What really gets me about this story comes in verse 39, in which we find Philip immediately spirited away, in a similar fashion to that which happened to Jesus on the road from Jerusalem. We’re told that the Eunuch went on his way joyfully. Who saw this? Was he not perplexed by what had just occurred? What about Philip? How did he feel?
So many questions. It might sound like I’m sceptical. Perhaps I am. The key thing for me is that God was glorified by what he called Philip to do and what transpired. The danger for us is to seek the miraculous, or the stupefying as being the only means in which God acts. This is not the caae. For me, there has to be more to the action and life of God than this. What do you think?