Travelling down a road in the back of a chariot, reading from a prophecy he did not understand and studying from scripture with a man he had just met, the Ethiopian eunuch made a choice. He made a choice to FOLLOW JESUS (Acts 8:26-40).
Starting with Isaiah 53, while preaching Jesus to this man of great authority, somehow Philip must have spoken about baptism. In light of the way many view baptism today, it is significant that baptism played such a featured role in this conversation. As Philip “preached Jesus,” the eunuch obviously realized that he needed to be baptized.
The first words out of his mouth, after hearing Jesus preached to him, were, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” His response had nothing to do with offering some form of “The Sinner’s Prayer.” He did not seem to think that, “receiving Jesus into his heart” had already saved him. He did not describe some “better-felt-than-told experience.” He simply realized that baptism was necessary for his soul’s salvation and sought to be baptized.
Note the first words which came from Philip as he responded to the eunuch’s request. He said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” He did not respond to the eunuch by asking him to wait for the next baptism ceremony at his church. He did not tell the eunuch that baptism was not necessary for salvation. He did not begin a discourse about grace and works, warning the eunuch about “legalism.” He simply emphasized the need for a heart-felt faith.
The eunuch responded, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” There was neither fanfare, celebration, nor a special event. There was simply the gospel, a sinner, and a body of water large enough to immerse that sinner for the remission of his sins. The text tells us that Philip baptized the eunuch. The eunuch was saved and went on his way rejoicing as a Christian. It was that simple.
Several facts are of significant note in this story.
1) The eunuch responded with a sense of urgency. This was not a “When I get around to it…” type of decision, nor was it an issue of convenience. This was clearly a decision rooted in conviction and based in faith as a result of hearing God’s word.
2) Faith wasn’t mentioned independent of baptism. The eunuch first asked about baptism, not faith. Philip then responded with words challenging the depth of his belief.
3) “Preaching Jesus” in the first century included talking about baptism. Baptism was not an afterthought, it was a forethought. Should not “preaching Jesus” sound like that today?
The last note of significance seems to me to be the most important as it relates to your choice. The eunuch asked, “What hinders me from being baptized?” If YOU know what Jesus did for you and why He did it and believe that He is the Son of God, then what is hindering you? Why are you not asking the same question? Why have you not been baptized for the remission of your sins?
Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20). As Jesus charged His disciples, so the charge remains today. There will be many questions that follow baptism into Christ, and many things you must learn after you are baptized, but FOLLOWING JESUS all starts with becoming His disciple. Will you become His disciple today, just as the eunuch did nearly 2,000 years ago?
From Expository Files 21.3; March 2014