Summary: The Story of Philip ministering to the Ethiopian eunuch teaches us the value God places on each human soul. The world might not treat us as anything special, but we are precious to the Lord.
4**-2*-85*5 is a very important number to me. Can you guess what significance there is in those numbers? It’s not a phone number…it’s what Uncle Sam calls me. You see, there are a lot of Peter Schmidts living in the US, and so when I fill out official documents like tax forms and wage statements, the government identifies me by calling me not Peter Schmidt, instead I have the privilege of being named 4**-2*-85*5, my Social Security Number. Nothing makes you feel more important than having a 9-digit number assigned to you.
Actually this world does a good job of making us all feel like just another number, going through the rat-race called life. The friendly crew member at McDonalds who takes your order gives you your Big Mac, smiles, and tells you to have a nice day. And you feel really special, like someone cares about you, until you realize that they wish everyone a nice day. They say it so much that it really doesn’t mean much. And often those “have a nice days,” are said with so little interest that I’ve heard “have a nice day’s” that sounded more like “here’s your food, now get lost,” because you are just one of billions and billions served, and we have to move on to the next number. Our world has a way of making us not feel very important, we are all just numbers. Before I put our new phone number of the national do not call list, our home phone was ringing off the hook. And you would think by how many people called us that there were a lot of people that cared about us. And you might feel popular or important for a while until you realize that all those telemarketing companies don’t really want to be your friend, but they are calling you because they want to in some way separate you from your money. Do you ever feel that you are a 4**-2*-85*5, and many of the people who do show interest in you are really more interested in what they can get out of you?
And maybe sometimes in a bigger church like Bethlehem, we don’t feel all that important. You might think that nobody even notices if you are there or not. There might be a lot of people in your classroom…how important are you really? Would anyone lose any sleep if you went to a different school next year? God wants you to know today that you are precious to him. The Lord doesn’t see you as just another number to he has to deal with. He doesn’t pester or flatter you because he wants to get something out of you. God has an interest in you, not because he wants to take your goods but because wants to give you eternal treasures. God used a man named Philip to show a lonely foreigner how precious he was to God. And the Lord Jesus uses you to show other people just how important they are to God.
When you take a stone and throw it into a lake, what happens to the water? There’s kind of a gulp as the stone plops in, but then the waves begin to go out in a perfect circle Then those circles get bigger and bigger, spreading farther and farther away from the center. That’s what was going on in Philip’s day. At Pentecost, all of Jesus’ believers were in Jerusalem. In not too long a time, persecution happened, and the believers were scattered. But that wasn’t a bad thing, because they went out like ever expanding circles. The first mission field after the Jews were the Samaritans. Acts Chapter 8 records Philip’s hard work among these people. The Holy Spirit blessed Philip’s work, the church in Samaria was just going bananas. There were so many new Christians there that the Apostles Peter and John came from Jerusalem to help Philip with this huge successful Samaritan church. And it was in this big church, where things were happening, where Philip was doing such great work, that the Lord knew that it was time for that expanding circle to get even bigger. The Jews had the Word, the Samaritans had the Word, and now it was going to be given to other races as well. And so we see the first verse of our text, “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip,’ Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” I don’t know what Philip was thinking when he received this command.\, but I would have thought something like this: “Things are going great here. I’ve got tons of people to work with and share the Gospel and help them grow in faith. And now God wants me to go hang out in the desert?” But you see, God doesn’t view people as just an insignificant number. Each soul is precious to him. And there was one struggling soul that needed Philip’s attention. He was the Ethiopian eunuch. Do you know what a eunuch is? We let our two cats run around our neighborhood freely. They go in and out of the house. They take care of the mice, and we don’t have to worry about either of our cats having a bunch of baby cats because both have been fixed. Our cats are the end of their family line. That’s what a eunuch was. A guy who was fixed, who wouldn’t be having any kids. And you might wonder what on earth is going on here. Why does the Bible make a point to 6 times in this text refer to him as a eunuch? In the ancient world which was ruled by royal families, sometimes high officials in government were required to be eunuchs before they could hold high positions. That seems really weird to us, but it gave the royal family peace of mind, because the king knew that he wouldn’t have to worry about one of these fixed officials murdering him and taking over the throne and setting up his own royal family. So there was a little logic to this strange practice. It was kind of a mixed blessing in the ancient world to be a high official. Yes, there would have been a lot of power and money and honor, he had the good job and the big house, but it would have been a very lonely life, with no family to come home to each evening. There would be no Mothers Days celebrated at his house, no Fathers Days, and any birthdays he would have celebrated by himself.