Acts 8 marks a huge development for the Kingdom of God.
As the risen Lord Jesus said would happen, his followers receive the Holy Spirit and are witnesses to Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Now we we stage two of the spread of His Kingdom.
Ironically, following the death of Stephen, persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem and scattered followers of Jesus throughout Judea and Samaria. And as they go they proclaimed the word (8:4). We get two examples in this chapter: the Word goes to Samaria (8:4–25); and Philip travels with the Ethiopian returning from Jerusalem (8:26–40).
Both are different contexts and so we see Philip vary the way he shares Jesus. In Samaria, he speaks of God’s kingly rule being established in the Lord Jesus Christ. With the Ethiopian reading Isaiah the prophet, he shares how Isaiah speaks of the sufferings and humiliation the Christ would endure for his people on the cross; and starting from that passage goes on to explain the good news of Jesus.
Both give different response to the word. Simon the Sorcerer in Samaria is in it for what he can gain – his isn’t a genuine conversion, unless he repents soon face judgment for his sin. The Ethiopian is the ideal conversion – he is already seeking God, hears and responds straight away in baptism, and rejoices in the gift of the gospel.
So what do we take from these?
Let’s be ready to talk about Jesus. Proclaiming, or preaching (verse 4, NIV), isn’t just ‘giving a sermon on Sunday.’ It’s sharing who Jesus is, what his death and resurrection has won for us, and the difference he makes in our life, in everyday conversation while we are working, walking, driving, or wherever we go. Jesus is the best news ever… why wouldn’t we want to talk about him! And all people must call on his name to be saved from God’s coming judgment. Who can you share Jesus with this week?
And as the kingdom spreads from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria, it continues to spread to the ends of the earth today. The good news of Jesus is for all people regardless of race and religion – God invites us all to join his kingdom. Are there any people you think are not ‘worthy’ or ‘interested’ because of their race or religion?
Let’s pray for opportunities to speak about Jesus wherever we go, for… salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
In Christ, Tory.