Let’s put it into context.
The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”
The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea. Acts 8:29-40
I think we often overlook the fact that Philip disappeared from the water and appeared in a town. Why would God sweep Philip away in the blink of an eye?
We can look to another person, who was quickly removed from the scene, for the answer. John the Baptist had the glorious honor of announcing Jesus to the world. He baptized Jesus, saw the Holy Spirit descend as a dove and heard the Father speak from heaven. But then what happened? He was imprisoned and killed. He was obedient; then he was gone. Why? John gave us a clue when he said, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)
John understood that, although he had a great number of people following him, once he pointed them to Jesus, he couldn’t lead them anywhere but away from Jesus. John had to get out of the way.
Have you ever seen this happen in your life?
I joined a lunchtime Toast Masters group, where people meet to practice speeches in order to hone their public speaking skills. After my first few speeches, the Holy Spirit began nudging me to share my testimony. I was hesitant. One member asked if he could give a speech on the mayoral candidates in the upcoming election. You would have thought a grenade had been dropped in the middle of the room. The leader of the group came unglued. Nothing controversial! I thought I had my out, but the nudge only got stronger. The day of my speech came. I gave them the title; “The One-Step Program.” I proceeded to tell the group how I struggled with alcoholism and was totally healed when I gave my life to Christ. After the meeting, I received positive feedback from everyone but the leader. She then pulled me aside. To my surprise, she had tears in her eyes and shared that her brother struggled with alcoholism. She wanted to know more. I simply told her that Jesus took it away from me and gave me an entirely new life.
When I returned to the office that day, my manager told me that they were implementing a change in schedules. I would no longer be able to go to ToastMasters. I never saw any of them again.
Over the years I’ve wondered why it happened that way. I was faithful. Just like John. Just like Philip.
Maybe God just moves us out of the way once we point people to him. Our job is done, for the moment.
What did Philip do after he was teleported away? He continued to point people to Jesus . . . and move on.
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