|Volume 21 Number 7 July 2019||
The Ethiopian Eunuch
The context of Acts 8:26 tells of Philip preaching to an Ethiopian eunuch who had visited Jerusalem to worship, but he was on his way back home. As Philip approached the eunuch in his chariot, he found him reading from the prophet Isaiah, specifically the passage of the suffering servant (Isaiah 53). The eunuch admitted he didn’t understand what or about whom the prophet was speaking. Therefore, Philip began to preach Jesus to him. As they traveled along, they came upon some water, and the eunuch requested to be baptized, to which Philip consented and baptized him. Why didn’t the eunuch just wait until he got back home? I submit it’s the same reason the 3,000 did not wait in Acts 2, why the Philippian jailer did not wait in Acts 16:25-34 and why Paul did not wait after Ananias came and told him what He needed to do (Acts 9:5-6; 22:16). There is no salvation without forgiveness of sin, and there is no forgiveness of sin without immersion into Christ (Acts 2:38).
If I were to ask you to define the word “Christian,” how would you define it? For many people in the world, when they hear the word Christian, they immediately define Christian as someone who believes in God, Jesus Christ and the Bible. While I believe those things to be true, I also believe some clarification is in order. I believe that in order to be a Christian, one must submit his or her life to God, obey His Word, be buried with Him in baptism and follow Him all the days of one’s life. So many people weaken the meaning of the word “Christian” by focusing on belief and faith only and not including obedience and works. This same type of confusion happens with so many of us today when we hear the word “disciple.” What is a disciple?
When some of us hear the word “disciple” or “disciples” of Christ, we think about a denominational group that exists today. Most of us, however, when we hear the word “disciple,” immediately think of the twelve apostles who were called by Jesus to follow Him in His ministry. While this is a correct understanding, let us also recognize that there were more disciples in Scripture than just those original twelve men who became apostles. Even when we include Matthias and Paul, we do not have a complete listing of every disciple. In Luke 10:1-4, Jesus sent out seventy-two disciples. While we do not know these men by name, we do know that they were disciples of Christ. What does it mean to be a true disciple?
According to www.merriam-webster.com, a disciple is someone who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. Synonyms would include adherent, convert and follower. A disciple of Christ is not a designation limited to a few men in Scripture. A disciple of Christ is someone who submits his or her life to God, as well as changes one’s heart, mind and actions to imitate Christ. A disciple adheres to the commands of Christ and follows Him and His Word forever. In fact, a disciple of Christ and a Christian are the same thing. As Christians, what are we doing in our lives that makes us a disciple of Jesus?