My devotional reading this week has me reading from the Book of Acts in the section between the early days after Pentecost and the missionary journeys of Paul. Acts 8, 9 and 10 are three of the most dynamic chapters in all of Scripture. I might add that these three Chapters, so pregnant with promise and possibility, are three of the most underappreciated and as yet unrealized passages of Scripture.
In Chapter 8 Philip is busy fulfilling the Great Commission as he preaches the Gospel to Samaria. In addition, he encounters an Ethiopian eunuch who is reading Scripture and curious to know of whom the prophet Isaiah speaks in the passages regarding the “Suffering Servant”. Philip explains the text and the fulfillment of the text in Christ and the Ethiopian eunuch is ready to profess Christ through baptism. He asks, “What hinders me from being baptized?” Many Christians through the ages might have given the man a list of reasons – his sexual “otherness”, his race, his religious background, his African heritage. But Philip offers him a model for professing faith and a baptism takes place.
In Chapter 9 a religious zealot for righteousness and law has been persecuting those found to be followers of Jesus. Saul is “locked and loaded”, ready to bring followers of this teaching of grace, salvation and resurrection to justice in Jerusalem. Along the way, the very Jesus Saul is persecuting appears to him, and Saul is forever changed. From opponent to apostle, the angry religion of a legalist is transformed to a dynamic faith of grace and love.
In Chapter 10 a Gentile, Cornelius, is sincerely seeking to know of Christ. He is a devout and charitable man. God leads him to inquire of Peter. Peter is warned that this man is coming to inquire of him. He is instructed to receive this Gentile without prejudice, to abandon his pre-conceived notions as a Jew that a Gentile is unclean in God’s eyes. Peter shares his faith with Cornelius and his friends and declares, “God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.”
In these days between Easter and Pentecost the church again desires to be filled with God’s Spirit. Most look to Acts 2 for some dynamic experience of the Spirit’s powerful presence in worship. This year, I find myself waiting for the Spirit to be alive in me and in our congregation that we might experience the powerful transformation of these middle passages in Acts. The baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, the conversion of Saul, the open and inclusive preaching of Peter and the movement of the Spirit to fall on Cornelius and his family and friends is a Pentecost I want to experience.
— Jack Glasgow, Jr.