And the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza…
We have an interesting and instructive instance of one man submitting himself to the teaching of another, and deriving from him a sudden transforming influence which most beneficially affected his whole after-life. Such teaching might well come ultimately from God, as in truth it did; for we learn -
I. THAT THE CHRISTIAN TEACHER IS TO PLACE HIMSELF CONTINUALLY UNDER DIVINE DIRECTION. Philip had some advantages which we do not now enjoy. "The angel of the Lord spake unto him" audibly (ver. 26), and gave him definite instructions whither he should go: "Arise, and go toward the south," etc. "The Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself," etc. (ver. 29). When his work was finished here," the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip" (ver. 39). But though we have, not now these outward, unmistakable manifestations, we have "the mind of Christ we may consult and know his will, if
(1) we intelligently and devoutly study his Word,
(2) unselfishly regard the leadings of his providence,
(3) earnestly ask for the promptings of his Divine Spirit. We are earnestly to desire to go only where we are sent of God, to address ourselves to these whom he would have us influence, and to stay no longer than he has work for us to do there.
II. THAT CHRIST HAS SUBJECTS TO SECURE FOR HIS KINGDOM OTHER THAN THOSE WE SHOULD HAVE EXPECTED. Which of the apostles would have imagined that the next convert to Christianity at this time would be "a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority," etc. (ver. 26)? Yet such was the mind of Christ. We are too apt to think we can tell whence the disciples will be drawn, by whom the table will be furnished with guests. But our Master has surprises for us here as elsewhere. We must not, in thought, limit the range of his redeeming love or converting power. It may not be the poor in need of some enrichment, but the rich in need of some higher wealth; not the lowly wanting some honor, but the honorable craving some truer dignity; it may not be the children of privilege familiar with the truth, but the sons of ignorance or superstition, or even the children of infidelity far from the wisdom of God ; - it may be these and not those whom the Lord of love and power means to call and win and bless.
III. THAT GOD HAS MUCH ENLIGHTENMENT TO IMPART THROUGH HUMAN AGENCY. Here is human ignorance and misapprehension (ver. 30): a sense of utter helplessness without guidance from some friendly hand (ver. 31); invitation to him that knows and will explain (ver. 31). Without the enlightenment which some men have it in their power to impart, everything is dark, meaningless, obscure, perplexing, - facts in nature laws of God, utterances of the Divine Word. Then comes the illuminating flash, and the mists roll away, the objects are clear in the sunlight, the path is plain. How wise to seek, how excellent to render, the light which, by God's kind blessing, one human mind may shed on the highest of themes into the most troubled souls!
IV. THAT THE SACRIFICIAL SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST ARE THE GRAND THEME OF THE CHRISTIAN TEACHER. (Vers. 32-35.) What passage in all the Hebrew Scriptures could Philip have preferred to this as a text for his teaching? This supreme fact in the history of our race is the theme on which to dwell, in which to find a deepening interest, from which to draw motive and inspiration, with which to fascinate the people, to which to be continually returning.
V. THAT THE CONVINCED DISCIPLE SHOULD FORTHWITH AVOW HIS CONVICTION IN THE APPOINTED WAYS. (Vers. 36-38.)
VI. THAT THE FULL RECEPTION OF CHRISTIAN TRUTH WILL BE FOLLOWED BY DEEP AND ABIDING JOY. (Ver. 39.) "He went on his way rejoicing."
VII. THAT THE CHRISTIAN TEACHER MAKES SUCCESS AN INSPIRATION TO FURTHER HOLY ACTIVITY. (Ver. 40.) - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.