The book of Acts is the story of how the Holy Spirit leads Jesus’ disciples across all social boundaries in order to demonstrate that the Good News of the Kingdom of God is for all people. One of the most powerful examples of this is found in Acts 8:26-40 when Philip meets the Ethiopian Eunuch.

I created these images during the #georgefloyd and COVID-19 moment in history. I can’t think of a better passage to preach at this time. 

Scroll down for a visual narration. You can download these images in a PowerPoint file and a set of .jpg images for free.

Visual Commentary

Acts 8:26-40

We really don’t know much about the Ethiopian Eunuch other than:

This person is Ethiopian. We must remember that Ethiopia was not the name of a country at this time. It was a greek term that literally meant “scorched face.” To call someone “Ethiopian” was more of a racial label than a national identity. The Romans considered “The land of the Ethiopians” an exotic and mysterious place at the edge of the known world. In other words, this person had dark skin and represented the racial “other” for the brown and olive-skinned Mediterraneans.

This person is a eunuch. A eunuch was generally a man who had been castrated so that he could work closely with royal women and not be a threat. We only encounter this word one other time in the Christian Scripture. Jesus says, in Matthew 19:12,

For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.

This person lives in a “gender third space” which is both an honor (to be an officer to the Queen) and is to live marginalized by the mainstream of society.

This person worships God. We know the eunuch was returning from Jerusalem, intending to worship there. That is all we know. 

The Eunuch is reading Isaiah 53:7-8. 

It is interesting to note that three chapters later, in Isaiah 56:1-5, the prophet proclaims good news, even for eunuchs, because God provides a way for them to be in the household of God.

We don’t get to hear what Philip says about Jesus. hmmm…

The eunuch takes the intitiative and asks the rhetorical question, “What is to prevent me from being baptized?”

This is the pivotal moment of the story. There are all kinds of reasons why some would say this eunuch should not be admitted into the household of God…

…skin color…

…ethnicity…

…sexuality…

…and yet…

…there is no verbal answer. There is only action. Philip is in the water and the eunuch is baptized and fully welcomed like all the Jewish and Samaritan disciples before him.

The social boundaries of the Kingdom of God are expanding.

The answer to what prevents me?

NOTHING!

ALL ARE WELCOME!

This is the radical and beautiful Good News of the Kingdom of God.

It’s for everybody.

This story, like its main character, is a mystery. It is an enigma.

I think that’s the point.

That’s how the Spirit of God rolls.

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