“Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?”
“But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to the truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are coming."
I am big on finding the full meaning of stuff and completely understanding what I read. How many times have we when reading anything got through a chunk of the reading, looked up and did the cartoon shake of your head because you thought you just read something in Mandarin. Everyone please stand up. Just kidding, but really how many times have you had to go back and reread what you read in order to understand it or to get the full meaning out of it. But how can we even know to reread something if we weren’t taught this! How can we know how to use the tools that are given to us in the Bible if we aren’t taught.
So here we go, in our Bibles when reading we often see either an asterisk or a superior letter (a mini letter), these are important details in helping us understand the Scriptures. An asterisk refers to a footnote and a superior letter refers to another Bible verse that we can cross reference the passage we are reading with. A cross reference is often backup information that we may need, information to clarify what we are reading, or information to deepen our understanding of the verse. And sometimes if we get lucky there are two or three verses to cross reference to. Whoever cross referenced the Bible, may just be included on my list of heroes.
In this verse Philip is talking to an Ethiopian man who is pondering a verse from Isaiah. As the Ethiopian man replied that he needed the instruction to understand, Philip got in his chariot and taught him about Jesus. The Ethiopian man understood what he was being taught and then asked to be baptized in the truth. Don’t you wish this was your day to day? To be able to just waltz down the street, spot a man trying to interpret scripture, realize he doesn’t get it, teach him the Truth, a light bulb goes on and desires the sacrament of Baptism. Our world would be busting from the seams with Catholics!
With this verse there is a superior letter attached to it, referring us to John 16:13. This verse is such a powerful verse. “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to the truth.” Isn’t this what just happened above? Didn’t the Spirit of truth guide Philip in his words to show the Ethiopian man the truth? Yes, yes he did. “He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are coming.” Did Philip just decide that this day he was going to proclaim the Good News on his own account because he knows more than the God? I sure hope not.
You see, cross referencing is a way to give us that deeper understanding, a way to enable us to see how intertwined the scriptures are and how in depth the Lord wants us in His word.