Summary: I preach expository messages, and this is the second in my series on the Book of Acts.
“Going and Coming”
Last week, we said that the very idea of a book named “Acts” would be fairly unique to Christian faith, in that many faiths, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and the like, do not concern themselves so much with history as they do ethics. But because Christianity is a historically-based faith, the truthfulness of the events that the Bible depicts is utterly critical. If God did not create the earth; if David didn’t really slay Goliath; if there was no Daniel in the lion’s den; if Jesus did not rise from the grave, then we are wasting our time, because we have nothing if those things are not historically true. But if they are true, then we have the basis for a faith that is living and vibrant, and Jesus gave gifts to the church, as we saw last week: instruction, leadership, and the promise of the Spirit. Today, we look further at Christ’s work prior to going to Heaven. PRAY
“Anticipation”, sang Carly Simon, “is making me late; it’s keeping me waiting.” The disciples had anticipated a number of different things; they’d anticipated Christ establishing an earthly kingdom, the Messiah of God come to defeat Israel’s enemies. They’d anticipated their own assistance in this project. They’d anticipated some kind of outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And even though Christ had taught them many times, still they had these anticipations, some of which were based upon misunderstanding.
Luke begins today’s text by recording a question from the twelve. “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
The question of the kingdom was so engrained in their minds that they must have missed what Jesus had been teaching them. Sometimes it’s discouraging for preachers/teachers to know that after so much time and effort has been put into the crafting of some message, so little is actually retained. One fellow in PA, a bright fellow, committed to Christ, one of my best friends in the church, told me on more than one occasion that his mind was such that he hardly remembered the things I had preached on any given Sunday! And yet, for all of Jesus’ teaching, these guys still interpreted the things He said through the lens of their preconceptions, and thus continued to miss the fact that His was not to be a kingdom in the sense that they’d come to expect. And to be fair to them, in their expectations of the coming kingdom, the renewed work of the Holy Spirit played a huge role, so when Jesus spoke with them about this new work of the Spirit, they fell back to their default understanding and tried to interpret His words through the grid they’d used for generations to understand this kingdom. But as we said last week, they were wrong.
Further, as sinful human beings, the disciples had more than an altruistic interest in the establishment of this kingdom in the way that they envisioned; on several occasions, they had even argued among themselves as to which among them would have the highest places in the “administration” as it were of Christ’s kingdom. But Jesus fixes their misconceptions: