Wednesday, January 23
Are We There Yet?
So when they had come together, they asked Him, "Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?" 7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Act 1:6-8)
First century Jews—like centuries of Jews before them—expected the Messiah to overthrow Israel’s oppressors, restore Israel’s sovereign independence, and increase their national prosperity. In all fairness, their Scriptures (our Old Testament) uses this language, and the centuries of silence between Old and New Testament saw numerous attempts to restore Jewish rule over their ancestral land. Expectations were high and clear.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus attempted to correct the disciples’ expectations, but they continually display the old thought patterns of a military Messiah defeating the Romans. One would think the crucifixion, resurrection, and 40 day teaching intensive would have finally corrected this line of thinking, and yet at their last earthly meeting with Jesus, the disciples ask, “Now?! Is it finally time?!”
Jesus doesn’t yell at them or even roll His eyes. Instead, He reorients their thinking one final time. Make no mistake, there will be a time when Jesus will sit on an earthly throne, fully visible and fully in charge, but God’s plans are so much bigger than what the disciples expected.
The disciples would receive power. Not military or political power, but power nonetheless. And this power would give them the skill and courage to be witnesses. We often assume, like modern evangelism, Jesus is sending them out to tell about His life, death, and resurrection. All that was part of the message, but is encapsulated in one main point: Jesus is Lord.
Jesus’ resurrection and ascension were His enthronement as King of Heaven and Earth. The disciples’ task would be to proclaim this reality not just to ethnic Jews, but in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
In ancient times, heralds were sent throughout the realm—as far as Britain—to announce the enthronement of a new king. Jesus did not yet have an earthly throne, but He was no less in charge, and not just of Israel as Jews had anticipated, but of all the earth. The task of Jesus’ followers would be to his heralds—his witnesses—that a new King had been enthroned and that a new Kingdom had begun.
Do you consider the announcement of “Jesus is Lord” as an integral part of the Gospel message? How does this change the way we live our lives and share Jesus with others?
Lord Jesus, like the disciples before us, we get it wrong so often. We are blinded by our historical and cultural expectations of what you should do and how you should act. Forgive us, and by Your Spirit embolden us to announce Your reign to all people in all places, as we joyfully submit to your rule in our own lives.
Pick Four More Activities
Listen and Worship.
Pray a Psalm.
Read a Book.
Retell the Gospel to Yourself.
Take Some Notes on Today's Devotional.
Pray for Yourself, Your Family, Your Church, and the Lost.
Memorize a Verse.
List Five Things You're Thankful For.