Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Philip Teaches an Ethiopian
26 An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip.[a] The angel said, “Get ready and go south. Go to the road that leads down to Gaza from Jerusalem—the desert road.” 27 So Philip got ready and went. On the road he saw a man from Ethiopia, a eunuch. He was an important officer in the service of Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians. He was responsible for taking care of all her money. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and 28 now he was on his way home. He was sitting in his chariot and reading from the book of Isaiah, the prophet. 29 The Spirit said to Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
30 So Philip ran toward the chariot. He heard the man reading from Isaiah, the prophet. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 He answered, “How can I understand? I need someone to explain it to me!” Then he invited Philip to climb in and sit with him. 32 The verse of Scripture that he was reading was this:
“He was like a sheep being led to be killed.
He was quiet, as a sheep is quiet while its wool is being cut.
He said nothing.
33 He was shamed and was treated unfairly.
He died without children to continue his family.
His life on earth has ended.” Isaiah 53:7-8
34 The officer said to Philip, “Please tell me, who is the prophet talking about? Is he talking about himself or about someone else?” 35 Philip began to speak. He started with this same Scripture and told the man the Good News about Jesus.
36 While they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The officer said, “Look! Here is water! What is stopping me from being baptized?” 37 [Philip answered, “If you believe with all your heart, you can.” The officer said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”][b] 38 Then the officer commanded the chariot to stop. Both Philip and the officer went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away; the officer never saw him again. The officer continued on his way home, full of joy. 40 But Philip appeared in a city called Azotus and preached the Good News in all the towns on the way from Azotus to Caesarea.
1 John 4:7-21
Love Comes from God7 Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. The person who loves has become God’s child and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love to us: He sent his only Son into the world to give us life through him. 10 True love is God’s love for us, not our love for God. God sent his Son to die in our place to take away our sins.
11 That is how much God loved us, dear friends! So we also must love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us. If we love each other, God’s love has reached its goal. It is made perfect in us.
13 We know that we live in God and God lives in us. We know this because God gave us his Spirit. 14 We have seen that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. That is what we teach. 15 If someone says, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God,” then God lives in him. And he lives in God. 16 And so we know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him. 17 If God’s love is made perfect in us, then we can be without fear on the day God judges us. We will be without fear, because in this world we are like him. 18 Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love takes away fear. It is punishment that makes a person fear. So love is not made perfect in the person who has fear.
19 We love because God first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar. He can see his brother, but he hates him. So he cannot love God, whom he has never seen. 21 And God gave us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Jesus Is Like a Vine
15 “I am the true vine; my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit. And he trims and cleans every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the words I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can produce fruit alone. It must remain in the vine. It is the same with you. You cannot produce fruit alone. You must remain in me.
5 “I am the vine, and you are the branches. If a person remains in me and I remain in him, then he produces much fruit. But without me he can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, then he is like a branch that is thrown away. That branch dies. People pick up dead branches, throw them into the fire, and burn them. 7 Remain in me and follow my teachings. If you do this, then you can ask for anything you want, and it will be given to you. 8 You should produce much fruit and show that you are my followers. This brings glory to my Father.
The story of Philip teaching the Ethiopian is one that has a lot of layers. Part of this comes down to something as simple as bullying. Now Philip was told by an angel to go out onto the road and to wait, so we know why he was there. What we don’t know is just what the Ethiopian was doing there. We are told he went to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel, but not why he did this. This would not have been a simple trip for the man, it was a journey of hundreds if not thousands of miles, it would have taken a long time and been very expensive, and once he arrived at the Temple in Jerusalem, the Ethiopian would have not been allowed into the Temple or even the outer courts, because he was a Gentile (not a Jew) and a eunuch (a slave). So in the end, this man had traveled many many miles at great cost to come and worship God only to be turned away and not allowed to even enter the Temple.
This is where story of Philip picks up, the Ethiopian is headed home having not been allowed to worship God in the Temple. This must not have made him give up on worshiping though, as he was reading from Isaiah, and studying about God when Philip saw him. Even this reading and studying turned out to be a problem. When Philip asked if he understood what he was reading, the Ethiopian answered, “How can I understand? I need someone to explain it to me!” Here this man was, after days of travel, still trying to learn about God and finally someone, Philip, was going to help him. So together they studied and learned while they traveled, and eventually them Ethiopian asked if there was anything preventing him from being baptized. Philip said he needed to believe in his heart, and he responded that he did believe that Jesus was the Son of God. And that was all it took! Philip and the Ethiopian went down to some water and he was baptized.
All of the things that this poor man went through to try and learn about and worship God, and through his faith he was finally able to do just that, standing in a pool by the side of the road. Now Luke tells us that Philip disappeared and reappeared in another city, but I don’t think that is the most amazing part of the story. I think the most amazing, and most important part of the story is that it wasn’t in the Temple that the man came to God, it wasn’t even inside the city walls of Jerusalem. It was standing by the side of the road, in a pool of water, weary and dirty from travel, that God found this man. If we think about what that means to us, we can understand that God is not only found in churches, or Sunday schools, but he can be found when we are tired, when we are dirty, and even when we are not able to understand what we hear and read about Him. It isn’t intelligence, or special places, or special trips that bring us to God, it is faith, just like the Ethiopian.