Philip and the Ethiopian


Series: Acts

Passage: Acts 8:26-40

Speaker: Jeff Thompson

The Gospel continues moving outward, as Philip is sent by the Lord to minister one-on-one to a marginalized Ethiopian Jew who is searching for God in one of the greatest Old Testament prophecies, the “Servant Song” of Isaiah 52 and 53.

Transcription (automatically-generated):

Saul is persecuting the Church in Jerusalem, causing all except the apostles and their families to flee across the regions of Judea and Samaria. In our previous study, we learned how Philip, a helicopter holistic Jew, stopped and preached the Gospel in Samaria as he was fleeing Jerusalem. The result was a revival, a spiritual awakening in the region as many turned to Jesus. In this part of the Book of Acts, the focus shifts from events in Jerusalem and the establishment of the Church to how the Gospel message, the saving good news of Jesus, spread across the earth. Throughout redemptive history, God has worked through a chosen group of people.

First, it was the Israelites, and God told them through the prophet Isaiah, I have called you for a righteous purpose. I will appoint you to be a light to the nations. Sadly, for the most part, Israel failed to fulfill her calling. Throughout the centuries of the old covenant era, israel either became selfabsorbed and wanted nothing to do with any foreigners, wrongly believing that God had blessed Israel because he only loved the Jews and hated everyone else, or Israel would break their covenant with God and join with the surrounding pagan nations in the worship of their false Gods. When we reach the time of the ministry of Jesus and the birth of the Church in the Book of Acts, israel is no longer involved with paganism, but they are instead in a fiercely nationalistic mindset.

And the worship of God has been corrupted into a religion that preaches salvation by good works. In other words, follow these rules, do these things, and you will be right with God. The belief that one can earn their way into heaven by being a good person. As I said, Israel failed to be the light to the nations that God created her to be. She became so lost in her legalism and nationalism that she missed her Messiah when he appeared as Jesus of Nazareth.

And so God created a new people to bless the world through the Church. And the Church was tasked with taking the light of the Gospel to the nations. And unlike Israel, the Church would embrace all of the nations. In Acts One eight, Jesus told his disciples, you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. The Church was almost exclusively Jewish for her first three years of existence in Jerusalem, and so God had to step in and say, guys, I said, the Gospel will go to all nations to spark that evangelistic work.

God worked incredibly through Saul, who spearheaded persecution against the Church, arranging for Stephen's execution as the first Christian martyr. We read in Acts Eight, verse one, that on that day a severe persecution broke out against the Church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria. That's a good start. And we read a few verses later that those who were scattered went on their way, preaching the Word. As people fled, they took the Gospel message with them.

As we continue reading in Acts chapter eight, we will witness the Gospel reaching a man on his way back to Ethiopia, a region considered at the time to be the ends of the earth. If you study Acts chapter eight, you will also find that the Lord has placed the conversion stories of Simon, the sorcerer, who we talked about last week, and the Ethiopian man we're going to talk about this week back to back. Simon's conversion was insincere. The Ethiopian's conversion will be sincere, and I believe the Lord arranged the text that way, purposefully that we might be warned to examine our own salvation and make sure we are sincere like the Ethiopian man, and not deluding ourselves with wrong motives like Simon. So let's jump in.

Acts chapter eight, verse 26. An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip. Get up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is the desert road. So he got up and went.

If you don't know in Hebrew literature, Jerusalem is up, whatever direction you're coming from. And whenever you're leaving Jerusalem, wherever you're going is down. It doesn't matter if you're going north or south, you always go down from Jerusalem, because it was the holy city, the city of God. This instruction must have seemed strange to Philip. Remember, revival had broken out in Samaria, and now God was telling him to leave that ministry work and head toward a desert road that nobody was really using in the middle of the day.

But notice that God didn't tell Philip why he needed to leave Samaria and go to this desert road. God didn't say, Well, Philip, it's step one of a five step plan. Let me fill you in on what the other four steps are, then I think you'll be on board. And yet we don't find Philip questioning God. He doesn't demand to know the full plan before he agrees to obey God.

We read, so he got up and went. And that's why God could use Philip. If Philip knew what God wanted him to do, he obeyed as best he could, as soon as he could. And far too often we delay our obedience to God, don't we? Well, we pretend that he's not spoken clearly to us when we know that he has.

And here's how we do this god's Word the Bible is clear on an issue, but we don't obey. We know what God has called us to do through His Word, but we delay our obedience. We pretend we need more clarity. Oh, pray for me. I need to find some wise counsel to confirm what the Bible is saying.

Let me put out a fleece before the Lord. I wonder if someone on YouTube has an interpretation that lines up with what I would like to believe not you. Of course I'm speaking to our online listeners. I'm not talking about areas where the Bible isn't specific. I'm not talking about gray areas.

I'm talking about things where God's Word says, do not do this. It's evil, it's sin. And our response is, I wish I could discern what the Lord is saying here, but I'm not fluent in ancient Greek or Hebrew, and we play Amen instead of immediately obey. Would you make a note of this? This is also a reminder that if we want the Holy Spirit to minister to others through us, we must be available and ready to obey them.

If we want the Holy Spirit to minister to others through us, we must be available and ready to obey them. If we're going to pray for opportunities to share the gospel, it means and I know this is tricky, but it means we must be willing to actually share the gospel when the Holy Spirit gives us an opportunity. And I don't want to be a hypocrite on this point BJ has a gift of evangelism, and it shows up because he's not scared to share the gospel at all. Some other people in our church are like this. I'll be honest.

I get terrified like most of you. Terrified, absolutely terrified. But guess what? I'm still called to share the gospel. I've looked.

There's no asterisk in my Bible on any of the verses on evangelism. And then at the bottom, there's no footnote that says, unless you're scared. I've checked every page. It's not there. It's not there.

There's nothing in there that says unless you really want people to like you, and they're scared you won't after you become that weird guy that talks about Jesus. It's not there any translation, any Bible. I've checked all of them, so you don't even need to look. I'm still called to be available to the Holy Spirit, and I'm still called to obey when he tells me to share Jesus with somebody. That's why we need to pray as the church did in Acts chapter four, that God would grant that your servants may speak your word with all boldness.

Because two verses later in that same chapter, we read what happened after they prayed that prayer. When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the Word of God boldly. Prayer answered. There's a connection between being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking the Word of God boldly, even if it doesn't come to you naturally. And this is just one more reason why we need to be filled afresh with the Holy Spirit every single day.

We need to be filled because we're asking God to do things in us and cause things to flow out of us that do not come naturally to us. We're asking Him to do things and have things come out of us that we don't wake up with. And so we're saying, Lord, fill us up with you. So that what comes out of me looks more like you than me, saying, Lord, fill me. I need it every single day.

We want to be full of the Spirit, available to be used by God and ready to obey Him when he leads us into an opportunity to share the Gospel. Continuing on it says there was an Ethiopian man, a eunuch and high official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of her entire treasury. Ethiopia was the land known as Kush in the ancient world. It was a kingdom whose borders were much larger than they are today. It lay on the Nile River, south of Egypt, and as I mentioned earlier, it was considered by the Greeks and the Romans to represent the limits of the known world.

It really was the ends of the earth in Hellenistic thought. At the time, the Ethiopians believed their kings were incarnations of the sun God, and therefore the everyday affairs of government were considered beneath them. The real power lay in the hands of the queen mothers, who were known by the hereditary title Kandake or Candice. In English, it wasn't her name, it was her title, like Pharaoh or Caesar. The Ethiopian man introduced to us here is a highranking government official who answered to the Kandaki and was essentially the country's minister of finance or secretary of the treasury.

The term eunuch didn't necessarily mean that a man had been emasculated. It was a term sometimes used in the ancient world for government officials. For example, Potiphar, who was Joseph's boss in Genesis 39, is called a eunuch in the Septuagent, and we know that he was married. However, because Stephen uses two terms for the Ethiopian man, referring to him as both a eunuch and a high official, and because he worked for the queen, it's likely he was actually physically a eunuch. It was a practice that was common in the ancient world, wherever amen needed to verses around female royalty, like a queen or a princess or a king's wife or a king's harem.

In my head, I was just imagining the scenarios where this must have happened to guys who worked for the king, and somebody brings them in and they're like, I've got good news and bad news. What's the good news? You've been promoted to be the personal assistant to the queen. What's the bad news? You might want to sit down.

I'm just good where I am. Middle management is fine. What about Steve? He's a great guy. You should talk to him.

He's ambitious. Continuing in verses 27, it says he, the Ethiopian had come to worship in Jerusalem and was sitting in his chariot on his way home reading the prophet Isaiah aloud. While we don't know much of his backstory, we can deduce that this man was a convert to Judaism who was sincerely seeking God. We see evidence of this in the great distance. He traveled to worship in Jerusalem, coming all the way from Ethiopia, and we see evidence of that in the fact that he had purchased for himself a scroll containing the book of Isaiah, the prophet, a costly investment.

At the time, he was traveling in what was likely a covered wagon of some sort. It was large enough for him to sit in, for somebody else to drive, and, as we shall soon see, for Philip to join him. And it was moving slowly enough for him to read a scroll. Here's the point. If this is like a chariot with just one other guy and they're driving super fast, he can't study a scroll, okay?

This thing is crawling along at a pretty slow pace. Now, being physically a eunuch, hebrew law condemned him as unclean all the time. It's in Deuteronomy 23 one meaning that he would have been forbidden from participating in many aspects of Jewish communal life and celebration during his stay in Jerusalem. He would have been restricted to the outer court of the Gentiles at the Temple Mount, and he would have been excluded from full participation in synagogues wherever he went. Even if he was visiting Alexandria in Egypt, where there was a large Jewish community at the time, he was legitimately a marginalized person.

Even though he held a high government position, he was a seeker. He wasn't deterred by how out of place he would have been as a black Ethiopian eunuch in Jerusalem, there to worship Yahweh. He wanted to know God. And even as he journeys home, we find him studying the Scriptures, seeking knowledge of God in his word. It was no accident that he was pouring over the scroll of Isaiah, for in Isaiah 1111, it is prophesied that Kush will be one of the regions from which Jesus will recover the Jewish people when he returns at the Second Coming.

And not only that I put this on your outlines, but in Isaiah 56, the Lord speaks through the prophet about what things will look like in the kingdom of Jesus when he rules and reigns over the earth from Jerusalem in the millennium. And God says this, no foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord should say, the Lord will exclude me from his people. And the eunuch should not say, Lord, I am a driedup tree. For the Lord says this for the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths and choose what pleases me and hold firmly to my covenant, I will give them in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give each of them an everlasting name that will never be cut off.

As for the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to Him, to love the name of the Lord and to become his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it, and who hold firmly to my covenant, I will bring them to my holy mountain and let them rejoice in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. This is the declaration of the Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel. I will gather to them still others besides those already gathered. And this blows my mind, because if you're not tracking with me, foreign eunuchs is an incredibly small and specific demographic.

Really, really small. There's dozens of them. And yet, in the word of God, in the scroll this man is reading, god specifically addresses foreign eunuchs. Now, did the Ethiopian know this? Is this why he purchased the scroll of Isaiah?

We don't know, but as we shall see, it was no accident that he was studying Isaiah specifically. Verses 29 the Lord told Philip, go and join that chariot. Up to this point, Philip has no idea what he's doing on this desert road. He's just hanging there, waiting for his next instruction. But after obeying the Lord immediately, he now receives his next instruction from the Lord, which he will also obey immediately.

And as he does, we see how God was working to bring them together, perfectly placing Philip the Evangelist in the right place at the right time to cross paths with a sincere seeker of God who was looking for him in the Scriptures. And this is still how the Lord works generally, not specifically. Don't go hang around deserted roads thinking something's going to happen. Generally, this is how the Lord still works. He works through circumstances and people and relationships to cause his followers to be in the right place at the right time, to share the Gospel with men and women who are seeking the truth.

I know this when someone shares the Gospel with another person and they respond to it, neither party has any idea just how gloriously God has been working behind the scenes and for just how long to bring about that moment in time. May we find confidence and comfort in knowing that when we share the good news of Jesus with anyone, god was working long before we got there. God will be working in that moment, and he will continue working after that moment is gone. And that's why we don't stop praying for those in our lives who don't yet know the Lord. He's working behind the scenes all the time toward the greatest good of opening their eyes and hearts to the truth.

Verse 30. When Philip ran up to it, he heard him reading the prophet Isaiah and said, do you understand what you're reading? The eunuchs entourage would have been sizable, but Philip was too laserfocused on obeying God to be intimidated. He ran up to the carriage and initiated a conversation with the Ethiopian man about what he was reading. It was normal at that time to read aloud, especially Hebrew or Greek.

If you weren't a first language speaker. You'd speak it aloud because it's easier to sound things out that are written phonetically, as this would have been. So Philip is able to hear exactly what this man is studying. Now, as an aside for any of you who grew up in the church, I just noticed that, contrary to what I was taught in Sunday's school, there's no indication here that Phillips running up to the Chariot is a supernatural miracle. As I said, the guy is reading a scroll of Isaiah.

They're not traveling fast, but when I was in Sunday school, I was always taught that he runs, like, super crazy fast, and he's like Usain Bolt. And he's like, what are you reading? That's not actually what happened. As cool as that would have been, I'm sorry to ruin another children's Bible story for you. He literally just had to jog for a little bit, catch up, and then he could start walking next to him while he was ending.

That's all that happened there. Philip asks the Ethiopian, "Do you understand what you're reading?" And he says, "How can I unless someone guides me?" So, he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. I wonder what Philip said.

He's like, I might have a few ideas. Philip must have smiled. He must have laughed, at least internally, at just how ridiculously perfect the Lord had arranged for this to unfold. Verse 32, it says now the scripture passage he was reading was this. And these verses are found in Isaiah 53, seven and eight.

Isaiah 53 is one of the most famous messianic prophecies in the Old Testament because it vividly prophesies incredibly specific details about the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of the Messiah. And Jesus would fulfill all of them perfectly hundreds of years later. It's one of the great evidences of Christianity. These prophecies of Isaiah are written hundreds of years before Jesus is even born, and Jesus fulfills them perfectly, including aspects he could not have had any control over. Here's the portion of Isaiah 53 the Ethiopian was pondering.

He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation, justice was denied Him. Who will describe his generation for his life is taken from the earth. The eunuch said to Philip, "I ask you, who's the prophet saying this about, himself or someone else?"

Scribes, scholars, and rabbis were divided in their opinions of this text. Some believed the sheep represented the nation of Israel. Others believe he represented the prophet Isaiah, while others believe that he represented the Messiah. The Ethiopian asked. Philip, what do you think?

And again, Philip must have said, wow, this is a softball if I've ever seen one. Just this nice little lob Phillips climbing in, getting ready to hit this thing out of the park. Philip proceeded to tell him the good news about Jesus and I want you to underline the word Jesus, because there is no good news apart from Jesus, beginning with that Scripture. And the good news was that Isaiah 53 does not speak of the prophet Isaiah, but someone else, the Messiah Jesus. Make a note of this, and we'll keep talking about it.

Jesus is the key to unlocking and understanding the Old Testament. Jesus is the key to understanding and unlocking the Old Testament as it was for the Ethiopian almost 20 years ago, so it is for us today. When Jesus appeared to the two men on the road to Emmaus following his resurrection, he said to them, how foolish you are and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Wasn't it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and enter into his glory? Then, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted for them the things coveting Himself in all the Scriptures?

Personal stories are wonderful. Your testimony of what Jesus did for you is wonderful. But any effective presentation of the Gospel must be based on the word of God and must point to the saving work of Jesus. Far too often, the Gospel is presented in a whittled down form that robs it of its power by presenting it as a mere solution to stress, anxiety, shame, or loneliness. Yes, it's all of that, but it is so much more.

The Gospel is often presented as a means to fulfill your potential, find your purpose in life, and it will do that, but not in the way you think, because it is so much more than that, as we shall see when we read through more of Isaiah 53 later in this study, verse 36. As they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, look, there's water. What would keep me from being baptized? And the answer to the Ethiopian's rhetorical question is nothing.

Nothing. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, nothing can stop the one who desires to be part of the family of God from being adopted into the family of God. It didn't matter that he was a foreigner, a eunuch, and ceremonially unclean, and it doesn't matter what your background is, doesn't matter what your history is. If you want to be part of the family of God Jesus has made away. Jesus has prepared a place for you because he wants you to be part of his family.

I really want you to hear that he wants you to be part of his family. Unquestionably, Philip had explained to the Ethiopian that baptism was his next step of faith and providentially passing some water. The eunuch enthusiastically asked Philip if he could be baptized right there. So we ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and he baptized him. The man declared his faith in Jesus publicly by being baptized by Philip in front of everyone in the Ethiopian entourage.

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away and the eunuch did not see him any longer, but went on his way, rejoicing. With his most recent evangelistic assignment finished, philip is supernaturally transported to his next assignment. Yes. Really? That's what happened.

What happened to Philip is probably what we would call teleportation. He disappeared in front of the Ethiopian and reappeared in a different geographic location, if any. Among the Ethiopian contingent were wondering if Philip was legit, that question was answered when he disappeared. Right before their eyes, the Gospel was fully in motion. Moving out across the earth, the Ethiopian continued to his homeland, rejoicing full of the Holy Spirit, and taking with him the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

The Gospel also continued moving outward among different people groups hebrew Jews, Hellenistic Jews, half Jews, the Samaritans marginalized Jews like foreign eunuchs. And when we get to Acts chapter ten, Gentiles nonJews, verse 40, philip appeared in Azatas and he was traveling and preaching the Gospel in all the towns until he came to Caesarea. Azatus was about 20 miles north of Gaza and was the ancient Philistine city known as Ashtod. Philip preached the Gospel there and in every town that he passed through as he made his way north to his hometown of Caesarea. And when we check in on Philip a couple of decades later, he's still living in Caesarea.

In Acts 21, he's described as Philip the Evangelist, and we read that Paul, Luke and others stayed with him during their missionary travels. He had a wife and four daughters who all fittingly, had the gift of prophecy. As one of the seven, Philip had waited tables and helped distribute bread to widows in Jerusalem. Then he was used by God to spark a great spiritual awakening in Samaria. Then he was removed to minister one on one to a man he likely never saw again.

And in Caesaria, he is noted for having raised four daughters who walk with the Lord and are, like their Father, in tune with the Holy Spirit. And I'm sure Philip found joy and purpose in each of those unique situations and callings in your life. There will be different seasons of ministry. The Lord will use you in different ways to minister to different people. Trust that the Lord is working in each of those seasons and give yourself fully to the Lord in each of those seasons.

Don't be looking or straining for the next season. Be fully present and faithful where he has placed you. Now, you might be single, and this might be a fruitful season of ministry because you have time, you have availability, you might be dealing with situations in your family that are taking up all of your time right now that's your ministry. One is not greater than the other, and God is doing significant things in each season of our lives.

Remember that the Lord is so powerful and so profound that he is able to simultaneously work on us, making us more like Jesus, while also ministering to other people through us. In other words, the season that you're in right now is not just about what God wants to do through you, it's just as much about what God wants to do in you. And I didn't like this as a pastor. I was like, Lord, I want you to separate them. Do bless the church, grow the church, do all this stuff over here.

Leave me out of it. Let's keep these two things separated. And God says, no, actually, I want to work on you through the church and work on the church through you as well. I can do both at the same time. And so know that the Lord is doing that.

If you're just aching for a difference season, know that the Lord is doing good in you and through you, where you are. Be present, be faithful, be focused on what he wants you to do, where you are right now. Because here's what I know about the Lord everything he does, everything he's doing in us, everything he wants to do through us is good. I know that with absolute certainty. The Ethiopian was reading and trying to understand a portion of Isaiah that is part of what's called the Servant's Song.

It is, as I mentioned earlier, an astonishingly specific prophecy about the Messiah written hundreds of years before Jesus came to the earth as a man. It begins in Isaiah 50 213 and continues all the way to the end of Isaiah 53. It's been rightly referred to as the fulcrum of the Bible, the hinge of Scripture, as the mega narrative of all scripture is captured in its lines. So turn with me, if you would, to Isaiah 50 to verse 13. It's a little bit in front of the center of your Bibles, but don't be too proud to use the index in the front of your Bible either.

This is a safe place. No judgment. Turn to Isaiah 50 213. Let's read through the Servant's Song and I'll share a few thoughts as we do. Isaiah 50 213 begins.

See, my servant will be successful. He will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted. You see, this song is about the Messiah. It's about Jesus, who he is, why he came to the earth, what he accomplished on the earth, and what happened after he left the earth, and then finally, what will happen in the future. The song begins by introducing Jesus as a servant, an astonishing posture for the God of the universe to take in human flesh.

My servant and I love this, that after introducing Jesus as a inerrant, the song declares that he will be successful hundreds of years before he came as Jesus of Nazareth. His resurrection, his victory over sin was never in doubt. It was the plan before the foundations. Of the world were laid. The second line of the song has a double meaning.

That is the essence and theme of this song. It says that Jesus will be raised and lifted up. And I say there's a double meaning, because that is prophetically fulfilled in two ways. As the servant of God in human flesh, jesus would be lifted up on the cross to die in our place. But after suffering and dying in our place, he would conquer death, rise from the dead, and be glorified to the highest place of honor in existence.

He would be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted. He would be raised on the cross, and then, following his resurrection, he would be raised to the highest place of glory in existence and the throne of God at the right hand of the Father. This song is about shocking, scandalous, glorious, and incredible contrasts between things like what happened to Jesus on the earth during His Incarnation, and what happened to Him after His Incarnation, how we looked at him during the Incarnation, and how we will look at Him one day in the future, between whom Jesus was perceived to be when he was on the earth and who he truly is. It continues just as many were appalled at him, his appearance was so disfigured that he did not look like a man, and his form did not resemble a human being. Here's what Isaiah was prophesying.

He's prophesying that during his trials, jesus was beaten and scourged to such a degree that his face was unrecognizable. You couldn't tell it was Jesus of Nazareth. He was so beaten and bloodied that he barely looked human. And all who saw Him in that state were appalled. They're speechless with horror and disgust.

And then we see the contrast. Just as they stared in amazement and were rendered speechless by the sight of the beaten and bloodied Jesus, they will stare in amazement and be struck speechless when they one day stand before the risen and glorified King of Kings. It says so many nations will marvel at him. Kings will shut their mouths because of him, for they will see what had not been told them, and they will understand what they had not heard. Isaiah now prophesied that during his incarnation, almost nobody would recognize or believe that Jesus is the Messiah, because he seems so shockingly ordinary.

He writes, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn't have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at him, no appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.

He was like someone people turned away from. He was despised, and we didn't value him. Jesus was not especially goodlooking. He was ordinary. That's why Isaiah wrote he didn't have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at him, no appearance that we should desire him.

Jesus lived his whole life without ever sinning, and yet those around him didn't love Him for his goodness. They hated him for it. And when we first hear that, we think, that doesn't make sense. How can you hate a guy who never sinned, who's just good and loving all the time to everyone? Like, how could you not like that guy?

But I want you to imagine by thinking back to your own childhood, imagine a kid who always does the right thing, is always loving, is always kind, doesn't have a mean bone in his body. And then imagine that child in middle school. Imagine him in junior high. Imagine him in senior high. And when you do, you'll understand that that kid wouldn't be popular.

Everyone wouldn't love them. He'd be lame, he'd be weird, he'd be an outcast, he'd be viewed as a naive fool, whatever the opposite of cool is, it's him. Because his actions were not driven in any way by conformity. His actions were not driven by the need to fit in. His actions were not driven at all by the need for approval of anyone else that had no power over him.

No sweat. It didn't matter what everybody else was doing. He was just going to do the right Godly thing all the time. That kid is not popular. Not only does he not fit in because he won't do what everyone else is doing, but everyone hates him because there's a pardon them deep down that looks at Him and knows they should be like him.

They should be doing what he's doing. And his very goodness, in and of itself, innately convicts them, because they can't lie and say, oh, it's fine because everyone else is doing it. Well, Jesus, isn't. It's fine to make fun of them so that I can fit in with these kids over here. Well, Jesus isn't doing that.

I can't hang out with that guy, he's a loser. I got to fit in. Well, Jesus is hanging out with him. Why would we work hard? There's nobody around to see if we're doing a good job or a bad job.

Jesus is doing a good job. Jesus is working hard even when nobody's watching. They hated him, and it wouldn't have gotten better as he got older. Jesus would have grown up from a very young age being mocked for his mother's claim that God had made her divinely pregnant. They would have said things about his mom that I can't repeat in church, because everybody knew she must have hooked up with a Roman soldier.

They would have said stuff about Jesus' dad and how stupid he was to actually believe that Jesus' mom was made pregnant by the Holy Spirit. What an idiot. "Jesus, your dad's an idiot and your mom is a fill-in-the-blank." all the time growing up. He didn't grow up in big towns. Jesus grew up experiencing pain, rejection, loss, temptation, and all the frailties of the human condition.

Whatever hardship you're going through in your life right now, Jesus has been through it. He's been through it. He knows whatever your pain is firsthand he's endured. He was despised and rejected by men. A man of suffering who knew what sickness was.

He was like someone people turned away from. He was despised and we didn't value Him. And here the prophet makes a contrast again between how Jesus was received by us on the earth and what was really going on. We humanity treated Jesus like trash when he was on the earth, but here's what was really going on. Here's what he was actually doing.

Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses and he carried our pains. But we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted throughout his life. The hardships Jesus endured weren't because he was an outcast.

He endured them because we were outcasts. He was ending our pain, our suffering, our sickness. And instead, people said that man must be cursed by God because he's a fool, he's an idiot, or he's a bad man, completely unaware that, yes, that man was being cursed by God in our place.

He had come to endure all those things in our place and endure them without ever sinning. He had come to live the perfect life we could never live and meet the perfect standard of God in our stead. But instead of being grateful, the world treated him with scorn.

But he was pierced because of our rebellion. He was crushed because of our iniquities. And the punishment for our peace was on Him. And we are healed by his wounds. What happened to Jesus in his life and death is what should have happened to us.

It's what we each deserve and so much more for rejecting the God who created us. And instead of getting what we deserve, Jesus stepped in front of the judge and said, pierce me, crush me, punish me. And Jesus gets pierced, crushed, and punished so that we can be healed. Healed. Why does Jesus do that?

Because he loves us. He loves us. And the truth of the matter is found in verse is we all went astray like sheep. We have all turned our own way. We've all rejected God; we've all sinned against Him.

We've all acted as gods over our own lives instead of serving the true God who created us to be part of his family. We're all guilty.

But here's the glorious truth that to this day, if I'm honest, I still can't wrap my head around we're all guilty. And the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of a soul.

That's why we love Him so much. That's why we sing songs about it. That's why we study the Bible, because it's all about Him. That's why our whole lives revolve around Him. That's why there's just Jesus, and everything else isn't even on the scale, just Him.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter, and like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not open his mouth. Jesus died for us willingly. He said, no one takes my life for me, but I lay it down. He knew it was unjust, he knew he was innocent, yet he did not protest because he wanted to die in our place.

He was taken away because of oppression and judgment, and who considered his fate, for he was cut off from the land of the living. He was struck because of my people's rebellion. After he died, a handful of people mourned. The disciples hid for fear they would be next. Life went on very quickly, and most people didn't give it a second thought.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, but he was with a rich man at his death because he had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully. Jesus was executed as a criminal and died on a cross between two criminals. Following his death, he was laid to rest in the tomb of a wealthy man named Joseph of Arimathea. Yet the Lord was pleased to crush him severely, and the word pleased here simply means that it was acceptable. Jesus was judged by God to be an acceptable substitute for all humanity because he was God Himself and because he was sinless.

In the cosmic math of the eternal, it would be acceptable and balance the scales of justice if Jesus himself became a man, lived a perfect and sinless life, and then suffered and died in the place of all humanity. The math works because Jesus is infinitely valuable. The math works because Jesus is worth as much as all of humanity across all of time, and even more. Therefore, Jesus was an acceptable substitute for all of humanity to be severely crushed in our place.

When you make him a guilt offering, he will see his seed, he will prolong his days. Jesus would be raised from the dead, and by his hand the Lord's pleasure will be accomplished. Jesus would successfully accomplish the will of God. After his anguish, he will see light and be satisfied by his knowledge. My righteous servant will justify many, and he will carry their iniquities.

The result of Jesus becoming a servant in human flesh would be and will be the justification of many. Millions and millions of people will be brought into the family of God, because Jesus has made it possible for our sins to be forgiven by taking our sins upon Himself. Verses twelve therefore I will give him the many as a portion, and he will receive the mighty as spoil, because he willingly submitted to death, and was counted among the rebels. Here's the contrast again yet he bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels and that's the gospel, that's the divine exchange. Jesus became like us so that we could become like him.

Jesus became our sin so that we could become his righteousness. Jesus came down and joined the family of humanity so that we could join his family in heaven.

The love of Jesus, as we see with the Ethiopian, seeks out those who want to be part of his family.

It sought him out on a desert road in the middle of nowhere. It sought out every person who belongs to the Gospel City Church. And if you don't yet belong to Jesus, I want you to know that the love of God is seeking you. He is seeking you. And that's why you're here today.

That's why you're listening to or watching this message. It's because God loves you. He is seeking you. Jesus loves you, and he wants you in his family. And I'm not asking if you understand everything perfectly yet.

I'm asking if you do understand that you need Jesus and you want to be part of his family. And if you do, please don't leave today without talking with me or BJ. This is too important. But a Gospel said we don't generally do an emotional hype thing. This needs to be for real.

And if you're for real, come and talk to BJ or me after the service. Even if you just want to know more about Jesus, you have questions, come and talk to us. We'd love to talk with you about it. Don't wait. In Isaiah 55, the prophet says, seek the Lord while he may be found.

Call to him while he's near. Let the wicked one abandon his way and the sinful one his thoughts. Let him return to the Lord so he may have compassion on him and to our God, for he will freely forgive.

And with that, I'm going to ask the worship team to come up. I'm going to ask you to close your eyes, bow your heads and we're going to pray together. Father, we just love you so much. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for giving what is most valuable to you, your only begotten son, so that we could become adopted sons and daughters in your family.

Jesus, thank you for loving us with your life. Thank you for what you endured in our place. We love you for it. And we ask that you help us to love you every day by taking up our cross and following you. We ask that you help us love you by obeying you and honoring you with our lives.

And Lord, your word declares the same. Lord of all, richly blesses all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him?

And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent. As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news. So, Lord, we ask that you would lead us into interactions where we can bring good news. Fill us with your spirit.

Fill us with boldness. Help us to obey immediately when you prompt us by Your spirit. Please work through our weaknesses and our fears to add people to Your family by using us to share the good news about Jesus. And, Lord, help us to be like Philip, who was full of Your spirit, eager to be used by you, enthusiastic in his obedience of you, and faithful in his devotion to you, whatever circumstances he found Himself in. Help us to be fully present wherever You've placed us for this season, do Your work within us there.

Make us more like Jesus. Use us to minister to others. Give hope where nothing seems to be happening. Give peace where we are restless. Give joy where life seems mundane.

Fill us with gratitude for all that we have in you. Fill us with Your spirit, Lord, and bring glory to Your name through us. We love you. Jesus. It's in Your name we pray.


back to list