When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?…
I. THE QUESTION OF THE APOSTLES.
1. The great awe produced by the first appearances of the risen Christ has worn off during the forty days. He and His are engaged in familiar converse as in days of old.
2. The apostles are not backward to ask a question; and it reveals their old notions of Messianic dominion still indulged. They still think of the restoration of "the kingdom to Israel."
3. But their expectations are now high and eager.
(1) They feel the power of God's kingdom in their hearts.
(2) They have been told of the "promise of the Father" (ver. 4), of a "baptism of the Holy Ghost."(3) They expect now, "at this time," a glorious manifestation of "the kingdom."(a) How prone we are to mistake God's times and God's ways, which are not as ours (Isaiah 55:8, 9).
(b) How anxious we are to hurry on God's dispensations; not considering the Divine slowness (1 Peter 3:9), which waits for our salvation, though we are so impatient for manifestations of great results in the work of His kingdom. Apply this to missionary efforts.
(c) How careful we ought to be, not, as it were, to suggest or dictate to Him the how or the when, since "He doeth all things well."
II. THE ANSWER OF OUR LORD was —
1. A concealment (ver. 7). It is not for the apostles to pry into the "secret things" of God. These are "put in His own power," and even Jesus, as Son of Man, may not possess them (Mark 13:32). Learn —
(1) Ascension-tide and the Second Advent are closely connected in many points. The moment Jesus had gone, the minds of the apostles were to be fixed on His return (ver. 11). He was then to them what He has been to Christians in all ages, ὁ ἔρχομενος.
(2) We stand at the threshold of the Second Advent, as they did at that of the Ascension. Our curiosity in religious things often centres on it. And of it Jesus answers just as He did to the apostles (Matthew 24:36).
(3) The fact is certain, the time is concealed from us.
2. A revelation (ver. 8), in which Jesus gives —
(1) A reminder of His departure, because the Holy Ghost was not to come until He had gone.
(2) A promise of spiritual strength. A certain "power" was to be given them.
(3) A prediction of the spread of the gospel, by a set progress in a definite order, beginning at Jerusalem, ending only at the compass of the globe.Learn:
1. There are certain things put in man's "power," just as there are some kept in God's.
2. These are, chiefly, to know the mind and will of God by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, which He has promised, and which He gives.
3. In receiving the Holy Ghost, we "receive power," not only to know, but to do God's will (see Deuteronomy 29:29). Spiritual knowledge and strength are that we may work, not speculate.
4. We are to be "witnesses" of the ascended Jesus —
(1) By our own heavenly lives (Colossians 3:1, 2);
(2) by our realisation of His mediatorial work (Hebrews 7:23);
(3) by our co-operation in all efforts for the making ready of His way to return and take to Him His great power and reign.
(T. H. Barnett.)
Parallel VersesKJV: When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?