5/17 Acts 8:35

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.

The Ethiopian eunuch was returning to his country from worshiping in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit sent Philip from a revival among the Samaritans to meet this single person on the road south. The eunuch was reading Isaiah 53. Philip asked if he understood what he was reading. The eunuch invited him onto his chariot to explain the passage. Philip explained that it was about Jesus.

Jews today and in the recent past have been taught by later rabbis that Isaiah 53 is about the Jewish people. So let us take a look at some of the things that are written and see if that is the case. In Exodus 4:22, God calls Israel His firstborn son and says they have been abused. However, a passage in Isaiah 52:13 describes a single male who was raised, lifted up, and highly exalted, but was marred beyond human resemblance. That certainly sounds like the crucifixion and ascension. The Isaiah passage goes on to say that He grows up before them as a shoot out of dry ground, which reflects an earlier statement in Isaiah that He is a shoot out of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1). It also says He was despised and had no beauty. He was pierced for our transgressions, His punishment brought us peace, and His wounds heal us.

Today some Jewish theologians speak of vicarious atonement and assert that their suffering has helped the world. Can a person who carries his own sin suffer to atone for another's sin? Even if it were possible, would it bring that person peace? The passage from Isaiah fits Christian theology much closer than recent rabbinical interpretation. This suffering One is called "the righteous One," a term used for the Messiah, never for Israel (Isaiah 53:11).

The eunuch was convinced and was baptized. His baptism was the beginning of the Coptic church. This account took place shortly after Pentecost. These men understood this seven-hundred-year-old prophecy was about Jesus who bore their sins. The righteous One was pierced on the cross so that we might have peace with God.

Prayer: Open the eyes of the Jewish people to the wonderful truth in this passage. Lift the veil that they might turn to their Messiah and know the peace and healing You came to earth to bring to us all.