Acts 1:1-11 NRSV
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
In this text, we are told that Jesus has spent the time since his resurrection (the book of Acts tells us it has been forty days) with the disciples. He has told them about the kingdom of God and has prepared them for the next step. What strikes me as crazy is that the disciples only have one question, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?"
I can think of more questions...Where are you going? What will happen to us? Why are you leaving us? How are we supposed to continue on? ...and the list goes on and on.
But they just ask the one question and apparently it's the wrong question to ask. He replies as if he's reprimanding them but within his answer he proclaims, "...you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
What an answer!
The disciples thought this might be an ending to an era but what it turns out to really be is a beginning. A new era for God's people. Jesus has been preparing the disciples all along for this moment.
What questions do you have for God? Will you be disappointed if the answer isn't what you imagined it to be? Are you ready to be a witness to the ends of the earth?
We'll talk about this and more on Sunday morning. I hope you will join us!