Editor’s note: Throughout the month of May we will explore hard/weird/confusing/hilarious passages or verses in the Bible and try to make sense of them (or try to model how you make sense of them) to better understand God and the stories contained in scripture.
There are many wild, crazy stories in the Bible. Stories that on the surface don’t make sense because they often go beyond what we believe to be possible. We often call these miracles, which by definition are supernatural events that cannot be explained by the laws of science of our day. One of my favorite stories like these is the story of Philip, a disciple of Christ and an Ethiopian eunuch.
Up till this moment in in Acts 8, many miracles had taken place that healed the sick, raised the dead, and freed people from demons. All of these are remarkable miracles that were meant to show God’s people that Jesus was the son of God. Yet this time, something different happens.
An angel of God tells Philip to go somewhere. Philip does not question this but goes and finds an Ethiopian eunuch trying to understand the word of God. Philip arrives just as he is reading from the book of Isaiah a passage that foreshadows the death of Jesus. Philip then asks if the man understands what he is reading. When the eunuch says no, Philip jumps at the chance to tell him about Jesus. This conversation causes the Ethiopian to want to accept Jesus as his savior and be baptized. As the Ethiopian is rising from the water, Philip disappears.
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 traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea. (Acts 8:39-40)
So, if I understand this correctly, Philip is literally beamed up from one place to the other. Not only is this just super cool (especially for the Trekies out there) but this miracle bookends a whole series of miracles.
- The angel of the Lord speaks to Philip
- The spirit leads Philip to a specific chariot
- Philip arrives exactly when this eunuch is reading about the death of Jesus
- The eunuch immediately wants to be baptized
- Philip disappears and reappears in another town
What most astounds me is that up to now, miracles often happened after someone would ask for healing. Jesus would heal them to not only respond to their need but most importantly, to help people understand who He was—the son of God. Here, the reverse happens.
God seems to go out of His way to help this person seeking Him. What an incredible act of love from God to make Himself known, understood. It overwhelms me as a simple demonstration of how far He goes to care for us.
Funny though, that we would probably not believe that a miracle happened if someone were to tell us, “I had questions about God and God sent someone to answer them!” And yet in this story, IT IS A MIRACLE.
Have we lost our sense of wonder? Have we let the world harden our hearts so much that we are blinded to the miracles happening every day in our life and around us?
Maybe this story is a call to ask God to help restore our sense of awe of God’s majesty, love for us, and His absolute power. Or maybe, it’s a call to ask God to help us understand more of Him and His word to grow in our faith. I pray that either way, you can see God respond to your cries but also, stand in wonder if how He has already been at work in your life.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:17-21