Greatness In The Shadows

Acts 8:5-8  ”  Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.”

Acts 8: 26-40 “26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this:  “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.” 34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.”

      I know alot of people, including me, love to hear the great stories and adventures of Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ closest circle of friends.  It must have been amazing to have been so close to Jesus and experience his love and grace firsthand.

     But personally, my favorite disciple is a bit lesser-known.  He was definitely one of the twelve, but besides a passing remark made by him once or twice in the gospels, he is only “featured” once in the bible.  And it is in chapter 8 of the book of Acts.

     First of all, I love how the chapter starts off.  It begins at an ending, actually.  Specifically, the ending of Stephen’s life.  Stephen is the first man killed for the cause of Christ, and what results is widespread persecution of the church in Jerusalem.  This caused the disciples and the other christians to scatter to other towns and provinces.  Now, what happens when a bunch of “on fire” christians scatter and spread out???  Tons of amazing things!!  For example, Philip goes to Samaria, a well-known enemy of most Jews at that time.  That doesn’t deter Philip in the least.  It says that the multitudes (which is……well, alot of people!)  listened intently to Philip’s message, were saved and many were healed.  And Samaria was now a city of joy!  Philip did not consider the Samaritans to be any further away from God’s grace than he himself had once been, so he preached with great affect!  Because of Philip’s open heart, so many more were saved!

     Wait!  I am seriously just getting started!!

     Later on in the chapter, we get another glimpse into what kind of man Philip was.  An angel of God instructed Philip to go down a desert road toward Gaza, which Philip did without a question.  He then has an amazing conversation with a member of the royal guard for the queen of Ethiopia, which leads to his salvation.  And THEN, God just “caught him away” and he wound up in another city!  Some translations say he “snatched him up”.  Can you imagine that?  There are definitely some days I wish he would pluck me right out and get me to where I need to go without all the travel.  If you have young kids, you feel me.  But I think the point of God snatching him up has a little more significance than just cutting down on travel time.  You see, earlier he told Philip to travel down a desert road, and God designed it so a man was waiting for him who, as a result of their conversation, turned his life over to the living God!  There was a purpose in the journey.  And when he snatched him up, God must not have needed him on the road, but needed him to get where God wanted him to be.  God doesn’t waste time.  If we are on a long road, I’m guessing it must be for a good reason!

     I am sooo not done! 

     In Acts chapter 6, there is the story of the apostles choosing a group of men, Spirit-filled men, to take on the task of feeding the widows among them, which according to the story, sounded like a pretty big job.  Stephen, the first martyr, was one of those men.  And after much research, I am pretty certain that our Philip was also one of them.  Now, the apostles did not want that responsibility because they wanted to focus on preaching and teaching the Word, which was very wise of them to do.  So they appointed this group to take it on themselves.  Serving is not everyone’s first choice in the list of things to do for God.  Some might prefer something a little more in the limelight, something that brings the approval of others.  But Stephen and Philip, who were both speakers who led many to the Lord, were happy to take on this new role, because they were obviously very humble men, who only cared about God’s opinion!

     You see, I used to feel a little bad for my man Philip, because he wasn’t included in alot of the “high profile” stories in the gospels, and got very limited mention in the bible as a whole.  But I am pretty certain Philip never once gave that a thought.  I’m sure Philip was excited to be used to the extent that he was (Hey, remember?!  He got “snatched up”!!!!!!!  Who else can say that? ), and to have spent personal time with Jesus, and to see the mighty works Jesus did.  Philip was a humble and, above all, an obedient man!


Don’t question the work God gave you, or wish for some other work that might have more impact.  Your obedience is all He needs to accomplish His works, both big and small.  And we might not ever know, on this side of Heaven, just how big it really is!

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