The Start of Something New (Pt. 2)
When are you going to establish an ethnically restricted Kingdom?
In the Apostles narrow mindedness the second aspect to their question they were essentially asking, “When are you going to restore the kingdom of ISRAEL?” They didn’t care about the gentile nations, in fact they despised the gentiles. Their attitude was, “Who cares about the rest of the world? They can go to hell in a hand basket. We want to know when WE will be victorious." It was a narrow mind set and a selfish one at that.
When are you going to set up the kingdom in Israel?
It wasn’t enough to establish a Kingdom for the Jewish people; they wanted the Kingdom to be restored in Jerusalem, on their home turf. This is where David reigned and this is where God must want to establish His next Kingdom as well. The disciples never took in to consideration that maybe this Kingdom that Jesus was talking about was not about them. They never considered that it was aGod's Kingdom He was talking about and His Kingdom goes beyond the borders of Jerusalem
Now, we can’t fault the disciples for wanting and hoping for this. The Jewish people had lived under the thumb of Gentile rulers for centuries, and they were ready to take their rightful place. But Jesus had something more in mind. His response to the disciples may have been, “It’s none of your business.” But he didn’t end it at that. He said, “You have other things to concern yourself with.” In verse 8 He says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus was saying, “Let’s not focus on when the Kingdom will come, let’s focus on how the Kingdom of God will come.” These words were both prophetic and a command. They were prophetic because the disciples were Christ’s witnesses. But in the same way they were a command, because he was telling them what they needed to do. Their witness was to begin in Jerusalem, then expand outward like ripples in a pond to Judea, Samaria and the rest of the world. He was commissioning the disciples to be the voice of the Gospel message to the known world. BUT they were to wait until the Holy Spirit empowered them before they went out. This is important to note because without being empowered by the Holy Spirit they would have failed.
Being empowered by the Holy Spirit is essential for the believer when sharing the Gospel. It is imperative for us to understand that we must be driven by the Holy Spirit when taking the Gospel message to the world. Yes, we are to use every opportunity we can to share Jesus' love, but we need to realize that it is not us who does the changing or convicting. This is God’s job and He is pretty good at it. We need to trust that when we do share Christ’s love that God will work through us and we need to be sensitive to know that not every situation is the right situation. We need to WAIT for the Spirit and move when He tells us to move. This is what Jesus was saying to the disciples. Wait just a little bit longer and when the Spirit come then you will go to all the nations.
Luke records that after he had spoken these words, “He was taken up before their eyes, and a cloud hid him for their sight.” It goes on to say that they were looking intently up in the sky when two men stood beside them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking to the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heave, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” It is believed these two men were angels or some have suggested possibly Moses and the Prophet Elijah. Who they were does not matter so much as what they said. They questioned why the Apostles were gazing up at the sky? The Apostles were not to be star gazers. They will not be able to bring Jesus back by gazing up to the sky. He is gone, they must let him go; He will return in his own good time and in the same way.
Jesus is coming back some day! This is great news! He will return to establish the Kingdom of God. We do not know the day, the time, hour or the year. Only God knows these details. So in preparation for Jesus’ return we must take his commission seriously and be spirit empowered and go out to spread the Gospel. Revelation 1:7 says, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” The return of Christ will be a public spectacle; it will not be private like his ascension. As Christians we anticipate this day of the Lord’s return but until then we must get on with our witness, for this is Christ’s mandate to us.
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Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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