So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the end of the earth.”
Many of you might remember feeling great disappointment around the end of May last year. High expectations for the year had seem crushed. Although we had hoped the Nationals would finally make it out of the first round of the playoffs, they had only won 19 out of their first 50 games. By the end of the season, of course, the Nats had far exceeded even our initial expectations by winning a thrilling seven-game World Series.
And yet, that doesn’t compare to the way that Jesus exceeded everyone’s expectations. Everyone had very high expectations for who the Messiah would be and what he was going to do. Some people expected a great prophet, a revolutionary priest, or a militant king who would restore Israel to greatness and get rid of those nasty Romans.
Yet, whatever people were expecting the Messiah to be,
no one expected Jesus. Jesus far exceeded everyone’s expectations by having a very ambitious agenda! While the disciples in our text above were concerned only with the nation of Israel, Jesus was focused much bigger. Rather than tell the disciples when
He would restore the kingdom to
Israel, Jesus spoke about how
they would bring the kingdom to the
world! No one expected that!
And they didn’t expect Him to give them His own Spirit to help them, as they went out to bear witness to Him. In Acts, you we see how the apostles, empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit, shared the Gospel wherever they went – locally in Jerusalem, regionally in Judea and Samaria, and globally to the "ends of the earth", even to Rome itself. No one expected that either!
Today, because Christians have faithfully continued that work for centuries, over 2 billion people now profess faith in Jesus! Those numbers far exceed what anyone expected too.
And the story still isn’t over! We too get to share in the calling of bearing witness to Jesus locally, regionally, and globally. That can seem scary and intimidating, but Jesus gives us the same Spirit He gave His apostles. By trusting Him to empower and guide us, we can follow in the Apostles’ footsteps in sharing the Gospel of Christ wherever we go.
By doing so, we will see Jesus bring more and more people into His Church, and I bet that once again, He will exceed our expectations!
God bless you!