Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. Acts 8:5-6 ESV
Philip the evangelist went to Samaria, being the first to preach the gospel in that area. The Spirit accompanied Philip’s message with miracles!
Thousands came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Acts 8 records demons coming out with loud screams, the lame walking and the paralyzed being healed. With such a response, the Apostles Peter and John were sent to teach and to anoint in the power of the Spirit.
I have thought about what I would do after such a successful preaching campaign in my ministry. There would be photos on Facebook, a daily blog describing miracles, a TikTok video, and a fund-raising campaign for the next scheduled crusade.
What did God tell Philip to do next? God told Philip, “Go south from Jerusalem to the desert road to Gaza.”
“What?” Philip thought, “After the success of Samaria, God should call me to hold crusades in amphitheaters throughout the Roman Empire. The arena in Ephesus holds 13,000. After that we can go to the amphitheater in Pompeii holding 20,000 and conclude with the 50,000 seat Coliseum in Rome. We will change the world!”
God insisted, “Philip go to the desert road.”
Scripture doesn’t really give Philip’s thoughts, but I, Pastor Grant, can describe what I would be thinking, “At least send me to Hawaii! The desert road to Gaza is hot and dusty with thieves lurking behind every rock. I should be promoted.”
Fortunately, Philip was in the Acts 8 story and not me.
As Philip walked along the desert road, he encountered a chariot with an Ethiopian court official. The Ethiopian eunuch was being driven. (Yes, his chariot was the ancient version of our stretch limousines.) While being driven, the Ethiopian was seated in the back of the chariot reading from Isaiah 53:
He was led as a sheep to slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He does not open His mouth. Acts 8:32
Philip heard the Ethiopian and asked if he understood the passage of scripture. The Ethiopian then invited Philip into the chariot where Philip shared the gospel of Jesus. At the end of their conversation, we read:
As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Acts 8:36-37 NASB95
After the baptism, Philip found himself in Azotus. From the desert road to a road alongside the Mediterranean. Not Hawaii, but much better than dirt and cactus.
The Ethiopian went home and started the Ethiopian church. A church that still exists today – the longest continuous church in history of over 2,000 years and counting. Consider the great Samaritan revival with nothing remaining today, and the insignificant desert road that started the oldest church in history.
God gave Philip a promotion that day.
God didn’t say, “Philip, I want you to start the longest lasting church in history.” Instead, God said, “Philip, go to the desert road, and trust me.”What I think that I deserve, what you think you have earned, what we all think should be our future – the desert road will be the destination that God calls us to get there. No matter how insignificant or demeaning, something great will happen.