This is the 3rd installment of the series I am doing on signs and wonders done by the apostles in the early church. Yesterday I did a post on signs and wonders accomplished through them in Judea. Today I will address signs and wonders in Samaria (which was the region north of Judea – a bit further away from the local region)
1. Ethiopian Eunuch – In Samaria with Philip, Acts 8: 26 – 39
- V 26 – ‘Arise and go south’
- The road was the main route taken by people to north Africa. Today Gaza is a hotbed of violence and anger towards Israel. God wants very much to touch the hearts of the current residents of that place (Gaza) and for them to repent and receive Jesus.
- A Divine appointment awaited Philip.
- In the 1st century the term ‘eunuch’ meant more than a man who had been castrated. This man was the minister of finance (v 27) under Queen Candace.
- V30 – ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’
- V31 – The eunuch invited Philip to come up and sit with him. He was probably riding in an ox driven wagon. This was a kind invitation. They were complete strangers, plus Philip was probably dressed in the clothes of a common man, whereas the eunuch was probably dressed well. Also, reading out loud was a common practice in that day.
- The ‘official’ Jewish teaching that circulated in that day was: the suffering servant in the passage (in Isaiah) referred to the Jewish people suffering under the Roman empire. The eunuch probably wanted another opinion on this, once outside Jerusalem.
- V34 – Then the eunuch began asking Philip questions, which then were a segway for Philip to explain things to him, ultimately telling him how to respond to the Lord in salvation. Notice that Philip did not just launch into a pre-planned memorized talk. He listened and asked questions.
- The eunuch was a ‘big fish’. He was an influence agent. According to church history he went back to Ethiopia and told many about Jesus.
- Listen to this story of a man who became a tribal chief in the middle east, and follows Jesus..
2. Paul – On the road to Damascus, Acts 9: 3 – 19
- V4 – a light and a voice – Why are you persecuting Me? Me, I thought he was persecuting the church. He was, but remember that you and I are the body of Christ, so if you persecute the body, you are impacting the Head (Jesus) as well.
- V6 – All of a sudden it’s Jesus giving the orders and not Saul.
- V7- The men with Saul also were speechless at what happened. I bet they were!
- V8,9 – Paul could not see and didn’t eat or drink while he was at it. (a sign and wonder) I wonder if he was scared. I wonder if he was fasting in repentance for his past actions. While Paul was physically blind he must have seen his own spiritual blindness.
- V10 – God spoke to a believer named Ananias and told him to go to where Saul was. God also told him that Saul had seen a vision of Ananias coming to him.
- Put yourself in Ananias’ shoes – are you kidding Lord, you want me to go where and talk to who?
- V 11-19 – Ananias was an obedient disciple and did what he was told. I’m glad he did! He went to the street called ‘Straight’.
- V17 – Ananias confirmed that it was the risen Christ who appeared to Saul. He did not just have a dream.
- V18 – Another sign and wonder – Paul regained his sight, was baptized and took nourishment.
- It was all God directed.
3. What can we glean from these passages?
- In both of these cases, God initiated what happened.
- Philip had no plans to go see the eunuch until the Holy Spirit prompted him to go.
- The church did not initiate what happened to Saul. Instead, the Lord decided enough is enough, now is the time for Saul to come into the kingdom.
- Even the people that you think would never come to Christ are ‘fair game’ for God.
- Just think of the impact the eunuch had on his homeland once he got back there and started talking about what happened to him.
- God likes to catch ‘big fish’. They influence others.
- And look at the way that God used Saul/Paul as a believer.
- Philip and Ananias were obedient servants who were listening to the Lord and willing to do as he directed them to do.
- He does what He needs to get people’s attention. He needs no one’s permission. He is Lord!