The brief reading we focus on this week contains the seed from which comes the entire story of the growth of the Church in New Testament times.
But remember please that the story is set in a real historical context.
We are not reading fairy tales, but historical drama set in the world of the Roman Empire. We start with a handful of puzzled Jewish patriots but end with congregations of Christ-followers in almost every major city.
The message it proclaimed touched the lives of princes and paupers, and eventually the Emperor himself.
And now it touches us and encourages us to become Christ-followers too.
Asking the right questions
v 6. So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
The disciples had witnessed the resurrection of Jesus, and the reality of his presence with them was now a settled fact in their lives. They had spent time with him as he taught them and prepared them for the task of going out to witness to all nations. But all the old political-type questions were still there at the back of their minds and the story reminds us ‘they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”’
Their old expectations of Jesus were lurking there at the back of their minds – surely Jesus’ role as Messiah will be to get Israel free of the Romans and back on track as the great chosen people of God. Great idea of course, but not the right question to be asking, nor was it part of Jesus’ purpose for them.
Any teacher will tell you that a vital part of the teaching/learning process is to get students asking and thinking about the right questions. This question from the disciples was a distraction: they were thinking along the wrong lines. They had not yet really grasped that God’s plans and purposes went far beyond Israel and the Jews! So part of the question really ought to have been ‘What do you want us to do?’
Are you asking God that question for yourself?