When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?…
I. WISTFULNESS ABOUT THE FUTURE. A curiosity mingled of fear and hope stirs in the disciples minds. The present oppresses; we seek escape into dreams of a happy past or future. There is an clement of truth and of illusion in these cravings.
II. ILLUSORY THOUGHTS OF THE FUTURE. The cherished dream of Israel for five centuries had been the restoration of the temporal power of David's throne. It was a fixed idea, and here reappears. So have we all our fixed ideas, and cannot conceive a happy future out of their sphere. But God's unfolding realities prove better than our sensuous dreams.
III. DIVINE EVASION OF HUMAN QUESTIONINGS ABOUT THE FUTURE.
1. No fixed knowledge of the future, its changes, and those epochs, can be ours. With all our science we cannot touch the beginnings, therefore not the issues, of things. History is a Divine poem, and God does not permit us to guess at the denouement or catastrophe of events. The unexpected happens, and Providence is full of surprises. Enough for us to read the unrolling page from day to day, and subdue our wishes to the actual, rather than measure the actual by our wishes.
2. Strength for the future is enough, and this may be ours. Power, inner power, spiritual power, in other words, a full and vigorous life-consciousness, is what we need. This is promised. But not if we are seeking sensual and selfish ends. Power is imparted for God's ends. Only on condition that we are given up to God's will can we work for God's ends, or enjoy the power thereto. The laws of the kingdom are as strict as any we learn from nature. The narrowing of Divine thoughts to our own petty notions of advantage means desertion and weakness; the inclusion of our purposes within the infinite purpose means strength. All true life-acting may be regarded as witness. Each man stands for some principle, expresses some leading thought in his action. What do we represent? What tale does our life tell from day to day? What negative or what positive is it that our individual life makes clear in the scheme of things? The pessimism of unbelief or the optimism of profound faith in the laws of God's world? To witness for the eternal Truth and Love gives joy and zest to existence; to have no report or message to bring to others of aught felt or tasted of the good of life is vacancy and sadness. The Christian witness is above all of the life of which mere words are a poor transcript. If in some way or other our life clearly affirms the goodness of God by reflecting him, this is witness for him. And the ways of witness are manifold as the glory of the stars, the colors and forms of the flowers. There are special testimonies to special facts or truths which have their place and season and no other; but in all places and times the whole life-witness silently tells. The "living epistle "is intelligible in every tongue and to all orders of minds. - J.
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?