Week 9 - An International visitor responds

posted 30 Apr 2012, 23:29 by Peter Booth
Acts 8:26-39

The passage is from a book called 'Acts', from near the end of the Bible. The events happen after Jesus had died, risen again and gone back to heaven. His followers (the early church) were busy spreading the message. In this passage, we meet two characters:
Philip is a Christian, forced to leave Jerusalem because of violence against Christians. He is travelling to tell non-Jewish people about Jesus.
The Ethiopian is a high-ranking government official from an African country. He has come a long way, into another culture, to respond to what he knew about God.

The Ethiopian is reading from the Old Testament as he travels. He reads Isaiah 53:7-8, which is a prophecy about a servant God would send to earth. This is the prophecy:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter.
   And as a lamb is silent before the shearers,
   he did not open his mouth.
  He was humiliated and received no justice.
   Who can speak of his descendants?
   For his life was taken from the earth.”

The Ethiopian is confused (verse 34), and asks Philip for help. Philip explains: the prophecy is all about Jesus! Jesus was 'led like a lamb to the slaughter' when he was taken to die on the cross. In the Old Testament, lambs were sacrificed to pay for people's sins: but now, Jesus has been sacrificed to pay the price for all of our sins. 

When the Ethiopian understands (verse 36), he is excited, and asks to be baptised. This means that he had decided to become a Christian, and wanted to symbolise this by being washed in water. 

The story reminds us that anybody can become a Christian, no matter where they are from. Christianity is not a 'Western' religion - anybody can come to know God. 

by Sophie Lister