“From beyond the rivers of Cush, my worshipers, my scattered people, will bring me offerings.”
— Zephaniah 3:10
The man who met Philip in our reading today was from Ethiopia, which was “beyond the rivers of Cush.” (Cush was another name for Egypt.)
People from many lands knew about and worshiped the God of Israel (Acts 2:5-11), and the Ethiopian man had traveled to Jerusalem to worship God at the temple there.
On his way home, the man was reading from the book of Isaiah, and he was puzzled. Isaiah had written about a man who “was led like a sheep to the slaughter” and was “deprived of justice” (see Isaiah 53:7-8).
Now, Philip had been led by the Spirit to meet the Ethiopian man, and he was able to explain that Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus, the innocent one who died on behalf of all sinners and was raised to new life. Here, as the Spirit worked, Philip was able to share the good news of Jesus with a man who was ready to receive the gospel in faith.
Then, when the Ethiopian man saw some water up ahead, he said, “What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” And he was right—the Spirit of God had arranged for him to hear the good news through Philip, and the man had come to faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ. So they went into the water, “and Philip baptized him.”
From there, the Ethiopian man “went on his way rejoicing,” and he was likely one of the first people to share Jesus with others in East Africa.
Holy Spirit, thank you for bringing the good news to us, and help us to share it with others everywhere. Amen.