“ . . . They asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times and dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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.’” Acts 1:1-9 (NIV)
After the resurrection and the empty tomb came Jesus’ bodily presence with His disciples. He ate with them, He walked with them, He talked with them, He allowed them to touch him. What could possibly top that?
This went on for 40 days ,during which time he also spoke of the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God!? Is that what is coming next?
He healed the sick, He fed the thousands, He brought the dead back to life, and arose from the dead Himself! What emperor or king could top those things?
Is he ready to take over . . . now . . . become the new king over Judea? He’ll put a stop to Rome!
“Is it now Lord, is it now?”
They had forgotten an earlier discussion they had with Jesus over questions about the kingdom of God. Jesus’ amazing response to them then was, “Don’t say, there is the kingdom of God, or over here is the kingdom of God, for the kingdom of God is within you!”
In Acts 1, Jesus seems to be telling them, it’s not just about what “I am” going to do about the kingdom of God . . . it is now about what you are going to do about the kingdom of God. Then, they were in for the shock of their lives.
No sooner had He placed them smack in the middle of His kingdom program, when He lifted off from the ground, right before their eyes, and returned to heaven and the Father. He left them no time to quibble, question, or equivocate.
The Holy Spirit would be theirs, the witness and the message would be theirs to pass on, as well as the blessings.
“My program for redeeming men and women is in your hands. Now, go.”
And they did go! They went everywhere with the message, and with grace and blessing. And thousands upon thousands have stepped forward to be a part of the body of the redeemed. Homes and families have been transformed. Neighborhoods and communities have been transformed, and the kingdom of God is still on the move.
Today, in the spring of 2011, the words of Jesus beckon to us, as well. The question again, is not about what He is going to do. He has done all He could do. The question is, what are we going to do with the witness, the message, the blessing, the mission?
We have all been recipients of blessings through the compassion and sacrifice of those before us. It would seem to me that it is now our turn to be carriers of the blessing. That’s what’s next!