Summary: When Philip preaches Jesus, people look for water! What’s the connection? Look and see...
I visited Amazon.com and hit the search command with these words: “The joy of…” to see what books began with that title. There were 111,218 entries! Although not all actually had that title: these were among those listed:
The joy of cooking
The joy of signing
The joy of motherhood
The joy of Yiddish
The joy of not working
The joy of mathematics
The joy of discovery in Bible study
The joy of juicing
The joy of burnout
The joy of blueberries
The joy of freedom
The joy of music
The joy of first year piano
The joy of reflexology
The joy of cheese cake
The joy of success
As we study the ministry of Philip in Samaria and on the Gaza road we find that his ministry brought great joy to others.
Look at verses 8 and 39 in our text.
8 And there was much rejoicing in that city.
39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch saw him no more, but went on his way rejoicing.
Paul later wrote to the Corinthians and said this interesting thing about his ministry:
2 Cor. 1:24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.
I love this! The ministry of Christ is a ministry of joy! It is a work that brings rejoicing! There is nothing as satisfying as a good dose of joy. One of the great benefits of being a member of the body of Christ is this: joy is one of the primary elements. When Jesus was born the angels announcing his birth said, “Behold I bring you good news of great joy that shall be for all the people! Today in the city of David a Savior is born, he is Christ, the Lord!”
Now let’s think about Christian ministry in context of Philip’s life here in Acts 8. Where has Philip come from? Jerusalem. And what’s going on back in Jerusalem that made him come here? Persecution! Saul is leading a great persecution against the followers of Jesus Christ even as Philip is in Samaria making new ones. When Saul started ravaging the church, Philip was one of those that fled the city and was scattered. By the way, Philip used to have a good job there in Jerusalem working for the church! He was nominated by the church and installed by the apostles to a position that gave him a responsible, full time job working to bring joy to widows and needy people. We don’t know exactly how long he served at that post, but the persecution ended that job, one of his coworkers was killed by a powerful political mob and Philip found himself unemployed and in need of relocation. So he flees to Samaria, home of the hated half breeds. It would be like moving from Signal Mountain to Poss Homes project.
Just knowing that much about what is going on in Philip’s life, if we were in that position how would you and I handle things? Almost all we know about Philip’s ministry is found here in Acts 8. The last time we hear of Philip is in chapter 21:8-9 and guess who comes to his house to stay a while? Saul of Tarsus, one of the men responsible for killing Steven, Philip’s coworker, and causing Philip to have to flee from Jerusalem, now as Paul the apostle, this very man stays at Philip’s house! I would love to have heard their conversation, wouldn’t you?