“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)
After rising from death to life, Jesus Christ appeared to his disciples “over a period of 40 days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3)
Jesus was alive! It was really Him. They touched Him. He ate with them.
Would He establish His Kingdom on earth now and make everything right in the world?
Jesus had accomplished God’s will, dying for the sins of all people so that they could be forgiven and have the promise of everlasting life with Him. The disciples had every reason to wonder and to ask this all-important question.
“It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority,” Jesus replied. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you,” He added, “and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)
The ends of the earth! Imagine how that sounded, at that time and place. Exciting? Overwhelming?
The disciples, now apostles, wouldn’t need to figure things out on their own. The plan was God’s, just as it had been all along. Jesus would go ahead of them (Mark 16:7) to lead them.
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” He assured them, as He gave them this Great Commission. (Matthew 28:20)
Though Jesus was about to physically leave the apostles, ascending into Heaven to sit at “God’s right hand” (1 Peter 3:22), the Holy Spirit would come to them and would empower them to tell the world about forgiveness and salvation in Christ. On the day of Pentecost, Peter witnessed to a crowd of “God-fearing men” who had come to Jerusalem from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5)!
The Kingdom had indeed come, in one sense, and there was much work for the apostles, and for the growing church, to do.
Jesus is still in the world through the church – you and me and all others at the ends of the earth who believe in Him, who have been baptized in His name and have received His Spirit. We declare the “wonders of God” (Acts 2:11) to the world.
He is real. He is alive in us! He shares a meal with us in Holy Communion. Wherever we go, He reaches out through us to touch people, to care for them and change them, and to save them.