“Excuse me, Sir. Do you understand what you’re reading?”
The fit, young man wiped sandy grit off his face with one hand while shielding his eyes from the baking, desert sun with the other. He kept pace with the chariot carrying the high ranking official sitting under a parasol.
“Go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza,” the angel instructed Philip. He obeyed.
Stay near the chariot, the Holy Spirit impressed upon him.
The Ethiopian eunuch wasted no time. “How can I understand unless someone explains it to me?”
He ordered his servant to stop the horses and motioned Philip to sit next to him. Eager for answers, he again delved into the scroll.
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
And as a lamb before the shearer is silent,
So he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”
Philip recognized the words from Isaiah the prophet.
“Tell me, please.” His dark eyes implored, “Who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?”
Seizing the opportunity, Philip began with that passage. “Isaiah, like all the other prophets of God, is referring to Jesus the Messiah, God’s beloved son. Although Isaiah served as one of God’s prophets over 700 years ago, the Holy Spirit revealed to him the unjust manner in which God’s son would suffer and die, cutting off ‘his descendants.’
“We are living in an exciting era. This prophecy was literally fulfilled five years ago; A.D. 30. Jesus Christ, who claimed to be God’s son, was crucified by the Roman authorities in Jerusalem at the time of Passover.
Isaiah refers to Jesus as a lamb. The Jews celebrate Passover by sacrificing lambs. This is a testament of when God spared their first born sons prior to their deliverance from Pharoah’s bondage in Egypt. The destroying angel passed over the houses of those who spread the lamb’s blood over their door frames.
Likewise, Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice when he willingly laid his life down on the cross. The people in Isaiah’s day could understand this language through the Jewish sacrificial system. Yearly, the High Priest would symbolically place the peoples’ sins upon a scapegoat that was released into the desert.
In essence, Jesus became our ‘scapegoat,’ bearing the sins of the world. Isaiah writes, ‘He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth.’ And, ‘he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.’
This prophecy also refers to Jesus’ trial. After being arrested, he was jostled to six different hearings. The Jewish authorities led him before the High Priest Annas, then to Caiaphas. Both hearings were conducted in secrecy at night. They made a mockery of justice with all the illegalities. Then, Jesus had to stand before the Sanhedrin. Again, justice was robbed as the 70 member Jewish council stamped their approval on the previous hearings. Their purpose? Justifying their definitions of Jesus’ guilt.”
“And the other hearings?
“The religious leaders had condemned Jesus to death on religious grounds, but they didn’t have the power to grant the death penalty. So, they ushered Jesus before Pilate, the Roman governor. They accused Jesus of treason and rebellion of all things!
Pilate saw at once that Jesus was innocent, but the uproar from the religious leaders paralyzed him with fear. So, he sent Jesus to Herod Agrippa, who rules over Galilee – Jesus’ home region. King Agrippa happened to be in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration.
Jesus remained silent when Herod demanded a miracle from him. Not being entertained, Herod sent him back to Pilate.
Pilate tried to compromise with the religious leaders by having Jesus beaten, which is an illegal action. But, realizing they were determined to see Jesus sentence carried out, he ordered Jesus’ execution.”
“What must I do to be saved?”
“Call on the name of Jesus, who after three days arose from the dead and now sits at the right hand side of God the Father. Confess your sins and put your faith in him.”
“Look, there is a brook. Why can’t I be baptized now? Stop the chariot at once!”
Philip baptized him there. Upon coming out of the water, Philip vanished in a whirlwind. The eunuch went his way praising God!
Acts 8; Isaiah 53
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