When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?…
Frequent were the interviews which Christ had with them previous to His death; ten times He was with them after His resurrection; but here is the final interview. The best things on earth must come to a close. The Divine drama is now over. These are words of —
I. CORRECTION. The old prejudice came up — the making of Jerusalem imperial mistress of the world. This had been the brilliant dream of their race for ages.
1. The question indicated the working of several wrong elements.
(1) Materialism. It was asked in spite of the spirituality of their Master's teaching. The empire of truth and love which Christ came to establish, compared with which all earthly kingdoms were passing shadows, had not yet penetrated them with its transcendent glory.
(2) Prejudice. Such temporal dominion they had been taught in their childhood to anticipate. The idea was reached not by conviction but tradition; and without examination it had been allowed to grow with their growth. Christ's teaching which bore directly against it had failed to shatter it.
(3) Ambition. Probably they expected to be leading ministers.
(4) Curiosity. They were prying into that which lay out of their province, and should have directed their inquisitiveness not to kingdoms, but to duties.
2. Christ corrects this morally mistaken state of mind. He does not say that there shall be no restoration; He leaves that with the enlightening Spirit about to descend. His words served —
(1) To check the spirit of idle curiosity concerning the future. Let the future alone; that is to reveal itself in history, and is not to be ascertained by human inquiry. Your duty is with the present, out of which the future grows. Would that modern prophet-mongers would listen to this.
(2) As a ground for unbounded trust, "The Father hath put in His own authority. All futurities are in a Father's hands, and are hidden out of love. Were the veil to be withdrawn, our social arrangements would be shattered, our free agency destroyed, our powers of action paralysed.
II. ENCOURAGEMENT. "But ye shall receive power."
2. Moral — the power that made them brave, faithful, magnanimous, self-sacrificing, successful — the greater of the two. This encouragement was opportune coming as it did after His caustic rebuke. The power promised transcends the political power of kingdoms. It is a power to change the heart of kings, to regulate the springs of empire, to mould the governments of the world. The old theocratic kingdom of Israel was but a faint type of Christ's.
III. DIRECTION. "Ye shall be witnesses."
1. The nature of their ministry — "witnesses." Hence their preaching at first was little more than a honest and fervent declaration of facts (Acts 2:22-36; Acts 3:12-33; 4:8-12; 5:29-82). These men left all the theorising for weaker but more pretentious men of later ages.
2. Its universality and its philanthropy embraces the world.
3. Its method. "Beginning," etc. This they followed (chaps. 2., 8.; Romans 10:18; Colossians 1:6-23). In this method we see —
(1) Unexampled mercy. Offering the gospel to His greatest enemies.
(2) Consummate policy.
IV. BENEDICTION (see Luke 24:50).
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
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?