And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:39).
What would lead this Ethiopian eunuch to rejoice in the desert? For that matter, why do we read in Scripture that some among those who followed Jesus rejoiced when they were beaten and suffered for Christ’s name (Acts 5:41)? Why would seemingly reasonable people decide to renounce their past and to completely devote their lives to Jesus, humbling themselves and experiencing suffering and distress in the process (Romans 12:1, Galatians 2:20, 2 Timothy 3:12)?
Such people know that even though they were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), they have not lived up to that image. They have sinned, having participated in evil: they have not done what they should have done, and instead done many things they should not have (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8, 10). On account of these things they are worthy of death and condemnation (Romans 6:23, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9).
They also know that the One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is the Creator, holy, and awesome in His glory and power (Genesis 1:1-2:3, Exodus 3-12, Leviticus 19:2). He established and upholds the creation, and it is founded in righteousness and justice (Hebrews 1:3). God would fully be in the right for condemning all of humankind to everlasting destruction, for they all have sinned and gone astray (Romans 3:1-23).
Ultimately, however, all of these people have come to know Jesus of Nazareth. They have come to believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God and God the Son (John 1:1, 14, Acts 2:36). They are thankful that God is not just a God of justice and righteousness but also of grace, mercy, and compassion, and His love was made most fully manifest in the death of Jesus to atone for the sins of mankind (John 3:16). Even though they, along with all humanity, deserved condemnation, they found reconciliation with God through the death of Jesus (Romans 5:6-11).
Jesus’ death allowed for the redemption from sin that the blood of bulls and goats and the keeping of law could never obtain (Hebrews 10:4, Romans 8:1-3). Yet it is the resurrection of Jesus on the third day that provides the hope of eternal life in the resurrection with the Father and the Son, with glory beyond imagination (Romans 8:17-18, 1 Corinthians 15:1-58, Philippians 3:12-14). Paul would go on to say that God raised Jesus from the dead and made Him Lord of all because He was willing to be humbled and to serve rather than to be served (Philippians 2:5-11)!
This is what the Apostles saw with their eyes (1 John 1:1-3); this is the message that the Ethiopian eunuch heard (Acts 8:34-39), and this is why people for generations have suffered greatly for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ and have been willing to give up everything so as to secure a place in His Kingdom (Matthew 13:44-46).
It might be almost 2000 years since these events took place, but the truth of God in Christ endures (Hebrews 13:8). We all today have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. We all know that many times we have left undone what was good and right and have instead done what is evil and hurtful. We might like to think that we can somehow make up for it with good deeds, but all the good deeds in the world cannot cover our sins. We might like to think that God loves us like a grandparent does his grandchild, spoiling us without any negative consequences, but He has spoken otherwise. Being good is not “good enough” to save us. In fact, there is nothing that we can ever do to be “good enough” to merit salvation (Romans 3:19-20). Instead, without Christ, we run the risk of suffering eternal torment away from God because of our sins, and God would be just to condemn us!
Thankfully, the message of salvation in Jesus Christ also remains true. God is calling you through the message of the good news of Jesus Christ to depart from sin and to serve Jesus the Risen Lord (1 Timothy 2:4, Romans 1:16-17). If you do so, eternity in the resurrection and glory await. If you refuse, condemnation and torment await. We encourage you to understand the great value of salvation and obey Christ today!