We find that after the martyrdom of Stephen the gospel spread throughout the region like wildfire. There is a phrase that has often been quoted throughout church history and it goes like this, “The church advances on the blood of her martyrs.” In fact we find a connection between Samaria — where Philip is — and Ethiopian. The Spirit of the Lord carries Philip away to a deserted road where an Ethiopian eunuch is reading from Isaiah.
26 An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip: “Get up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he got up and went. There was an Ethiopian man, a eunuch and high official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to worship in Jerusalem 28 and was sitting in his chariot on his way home, reading the prophet Isaiah aloud. (Acts 8:26-28 [CSB])
On that desert road this eunuch became a follower of Jesus. Some scholars say that this event was the beginning of the church in Ethiopia that goes strong till today. One act of obedience on Philip’s part and a conversation with an isolated government official and for two millennial there has been a church in Ethiopia.
What/who is God calling you to speak to today. The funny thing about His Kingdom work is that it never is empty of results. Who knows perhaps that conversation you have today or this week could have eternal benefits for millions of people for all eternity.
Father God, help us to keep our wits about us and to look for the opportunities you give us to share the good news of Jesus with those You put in our path. We look forward to what eternal results come from these encounters. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.
Matthew 11 is one of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture.
2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” (Matthew 11:2-6 [NASB]
John the Baptist was sitting in prison for doing what was morally right. He called out sin and was placed in jail for it and soon would be executed. In his mind it wasn’t turning out the way he expected. He didn’t see himself rotting away in some jail, but serving God. What a huge difference between the crowds that came to see him preach and now sitting in jail his life wasting away.
So he sends his men to Jesus to see if he is the real Messiah or whether they should wait for another. Jesus replies to their questions by reporting what he is doing. And then he shares with the crowd what an awesome person John the Baptist was. He didn’t scold him or deride him. Jesus praises his cousin John.
Later in the chapter he talks about the the Kingdom of God and he puts it this way (paraphrased), The Kingdom of God has been forcefully advancing and forceful men and woman take hold of it. In other words the Kingdom of God is not for sissies. It is moving forward to strong people take hold of it and help move it forward. People like John the Baptist.
Soon John would lose his head. Although the church had not been born yet, John epitomizes this watchword of the church. The Church advances on the blood of Her martyrs.
I guess the question this morning to you is, Are you ready for the challenge. Will you join the men and women through the ages who have been forceful enough and even brave enough to give their lives in seeing the advancement of God’s Kingdom.