9th February 2018

Say Something 

So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’
Acts 8:30 (ESV)

Do you ever come across someone who’s reading the Bible? We might in church or in a Christian environment, but what about in another setting? It happened to me recently and I thought of Philip and the Ethiopian.

Perhaps you remember the story. Presumably the Ethiopian was a Jewish proselyte who was returning home after the first New Testament Pentecost. Maybe he had heard Peter preach but he was not one of the 3,000 who received Christ on that day. I think it’s sad that Luke doesn’t record his name when in almost every other instance in the book of Acts Luke does give us the names of the leading converts. Did Philip not ask him his name, and therefore Luke doesn’t know it? Anyway, the Ethiopian was reading Isaiah 53:7-8, and Philip began a conversation with him. Was anyone listening in? It’s unlikely that this Ethiopian, a man of substance, was driving the chariot by himself. How could he have held the reins and been holding a scroll of Isaiah at the same time? Later in Luke’s account the Ethiopian commands the chariot to stand still. To whom did he give the order? Chances are there was a least a driver and probably some other servants with him. They would have heard the encounter.

A few weeks ago I was on a packed train to London. A young man, maybe in his late teens, sat in the seat opposite me, took out a large Bible and began to study a section in 2 Chronicles. I watched him. Should I say something? Would others around me hear? Is this going to be embarrassing? This is silly, I thought, would Jesus not say something? “What translation are you reading?” I asked. “The ESV.” he replied, “Do you read the Bible?” “Yes, all the time. I love it,” I continued and got up as my station was announced. The people across the aisle and those sitting next to us were all looking on and listening with interest. “That’s wonderful,” the young man said, and then I got off the train. What was his name?

This was not the first time I had come across someone reading the Bible on a train. In fact it had happened a few months previously when I ended up talking to a young Ghanaian Christian in a much less crowded carriage. I had also been hesitant to begin a conversation then. Is there a lesson in this for me? Who knows where such encounters lead? Is this some kind of witness to those who overheard? Would it have strengthened the faith of the those involved? Did it strengthen mine?

Next time, when we come across someone reading Bible, let’s say something.

Prayer
Father, thank you for the gospel opportunities you give us, and help us please, through the Spirit, to be bold and to grasp them. In Jesus
’ name.
Amen
 

Study by James Henderson

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About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland.

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