I spoke at Cardiff University CU on Acts 8:26-40 on Wednesday
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Here's part 2 of my notes.
In Samaria Philip encountered Simon the Sorcerer who was into power and impressiveness. The Ethiopian is also a powerful and influential man, the treasurer of Ethiopia. He’s educated, he’s reading Isaiah 53.
Ever wondered if we have something impressive enough? Thought to yourself - “will this guy impress my friends?” See God’s way:
• 8v9-11 Simon: amazed... somebody great. …paid attention to him… power of God that is called Great… they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them
• 8v32:33 Jesus: Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter… silent… humiliation… justice was denied him… life taken away.
In a world addicted to being impressive – salvation comes through humiliation. Like baptism, through the waters of death before rising to the joys of new life. The glory of the God of Christianity isn’t some wow-powerful shock and awe, No, God came as the lowest to be high and lifted up to death for us. The man is reading this passage and asks Philip:
V34 About whom is the prophet speaking?
V35 And we’re told Philip opened his mouth and beginning with this scripture and explained the good news about Jesus.
What would he have said? The text is Isaiah 53:7-8 but it’ll be there as a scroll in front of him so he’ll have a bit more to draw on. The answer to the question is that this text isn’t about Isaiah but about a figure called The Servant whose name is Jesus.
What good news can Philip explain from the Scripture?
Isaiah 53:4 speaks of how The Servant would be considered smitten by God – abandoned and punished by God. And that’s exactly what people thought of Jesus in his death, they mocked him for it.
But 53:5 says: “but he was wounded FOR our transgressions, he was crushed FOR our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought US peace, and with his stripes we are healed”
He wasn’t punished for his own sin, but for ours. 53:6 tells of how we’re like sheep who have wandered away from our shepherd, lost and helpless. Which isn’t just pitiful but evil, picture a bride wandering away from her husband… “ and the LORD has laid on him, the iniquity of us all” In his death, recently to Philip, 2000 years ago to us, he was led like a lamb to slaughter. His death was with the wicked and the rich – a criminals death and a rich man’s borrowed tomb. And in all of this, 53:10 - “yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him” or more accurately, the pleasure of the LORD to crush him.
Death is not the end of him for “he shall see his offspring”. How? He was raised, bodily, physically, by his Father. As if, like Jonah he was drowned in the water and then vomited back out onto the land. And, 53:11-12 “my servant shall make many to be accounted righteous, he shall bear their iniquities… he was poured out to death, numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many & makes intercession for the transgressors”
Jesus is this Servant, serving through his death, destroyed for his people, and raised to see his offspring, to stand for his people to intercede for them by the power of his indestructible life.
Ever heard people say religion is a power-play to control people?
Not Christianity. Power here isn’t wielded but yielded. God shows his sheer love for us, to take upon himself what we deserve. This is not manipulation and control but the passionate action of a God of love, determined to have us back. In February you’ve got me in all my weaknesses, and together we’ve got our humiliated Saviour. And that will be enough.
Have you received this? Do you know this great love that he has for you? As he has loved you would you give yourself for others – even to humiliation?