Ethiopian Eunuch

The name of the Ethiopian eunuch isn't given, but he was Secretary of the Treasury under Queen Candace of Ethiopia, and he had been to Jerusalem on a religious pilgrimage. It was on his way home that the high point of the trip occurred.

He was cruising along in his chariot reading out loud to himself from the book of Isaiah when the apostle Philip happened to overhear him and asked if he understood what the words were all about. The eunuch said he could use some help on one passage in particular, and this was the passage:

As a sheep led to the slaughter or a lamb before its shearers is dumb so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken up from the earth.

(Acts 8:32-33; compare Isaiah 53:7-8)

Who in the world was Isaiah talking about? the eunuch wanted to know, and Philip said it was Jesus. Jesus was the one who was gentle as a sheep and innocent as a lamb. He was the one who had been unjustly humiliated and slaughtered and hadn't let out so much as a peep to save himself. As for describing his generation, his time, all you could say was that he belonged to all time and every generation because his life wasn't bound to the earth anymore. His life was everywhere, and any of us could live it for ourselves or let it live itself in us as easily as a fish circulates around in the water and the water circulates around in a fish.

The way things happened, a pond turned up by the side of the road as they traveled along, and the eunuch asked why he shouldn't give the thing a try right then and there and let Philip baptize him in it. So Philip baptized him, and when that black and mutilated potentate bobbed back to the surface, he was so carried away he couldn't even speak. The sounds of his joy were like the sounds of a brook rattling over pebbles, and Philip never saw him again and never had to.

Acts 8:26-39

 

~originally published in Peculiar Treasures and later in Beyond Words