Summary: Why did God send Philip witness to the Eunuch? This was an important official in Ethiopia. Why not send Peter, or John or one the other apostles?
OPEN: On our vacation last month we went to Philadelphia. We took the guided tour of the city in a double-decker bus and saw various statues and parks, Betsy Ross’s home, as well as Benjamin Franklin’s grave. Our guide told us that people throw approximately $3000 in pennies on Franklin’s grave every year. Does anybody know why that is? It’s because he once said “A penny saved is a penny earned.” The guide told us Franklin has made more money in death than he ever did while living.
We also visited the Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was signed), as well as the first building where the Supreme Court met, and - of course – the building where the Liberty Bell is housed.
While we were viewing the Bell, I overheard a tour guide telling about its history. The Liberty Bell was made in England and, after being shipped to Philadelphia, cracked the very first time it was used. The Bell was recast - adding some extra copper for strength - but many complained that it no longer had a pleasant sound when it was rung. Again it was recast with more copper, but the resulting sound when it was ringing wasn’t much better.
The guide gave many other interesting facts about the Bell and when she finished her spiel, I asked her if she knew that the Liberty Bell had once nearly been bartered away as scrap metal. She looked at me oddly and wasn’t sure I was knew what I was talking about. But it was true.
Back in 1828, the city fathers had decided to give the bell to a bell-maker named John Wilbank in exchange for a replacement. Wilbank agreed to knock $400 off his bill in exchange for the 2000-pound relic. But, when Wilbank went to collect the bell he decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. The city sued him… because they really didn’t want it either. It’s only value to them was the $400 Wilbank had offered in exchange.
Finally, Wilbank relented… bought the bell and then turned around and donated it back to the city.
Wilbank didn’t believe the bell was worth the trouble of hauling away. And frankly he was right. The metal was substandard. It was so damaged from structural weakness that it was rung only rarely. It’s only been rung a couple of times in the past 150 years or so because of the fear that ringing it would result in its being totally destroyed.
APPLY: There was a time when no one wanted the Liberty Bell. It was cracked and useless and good for nothing. And yet, today - in order to get into the building where that Bell is housed - you literally need to go through a metal detector flanked by armed guards who are there to make sure that no one attempts to damage this now valuable relic.
The Liberty Bell is valuable - NOT because of its inherent value as a bell - but because it had once been rung when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
It is now PRICELESS because it had ONCE been used to declare freedom
I. Throughout New Testament, we’re told stories of people who – for us – have become household names because they were once used by God to declare freedom. They have become AS priceless to us as the Liberty Bell has become to our country.
People like Peter, James, John, Mary and Martha.
They are examples of the changes that we ourselves can bring to people’s lives IF we allow ourselves to be used by God.
One of those examples was a man named Philip.
Now Philip is only mentioned 3 times in the Bible. When we’re first introduced to him he’s being nominated by the church to be a deacon to help take of some of the distribution of food to widows in the congregation. It’s not really a high profile job, but Acts 6 tells us that he (and the other 6 men who helped in this ministry) were required to be men “…known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom….” (Acts 6:3)
Not too long after Philip was given this responsibility, King Herod began to persecute the church in Jerusalem - executing the Apostle James and imprisoning Peter. Many Christians - including Philip - fled for their lives to other cities and regions. Philip went north about 35 miles to the region of Samaria and promptly began to share his faith with the people in a city there. We’re not told how big this city was, but as soon as he arrived he began preaching about Jesus and converted nearly the entire city to Christ.
Now, today, if you want to be a preacher, most churches require that you be “ordained”. That is, a group of church leaders must vouch for your knowledge of Scripture and your love of Jesus. And that group of church leaders would have laid hands on you, ordaining you to the preaching ministry.