Then they gathered round him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ Acts 1:6-8 (NIV)
After Jesus’ resurrection the disciples were still fixated on their view of what the Messiah was to do. In Acts 1 it is recorded that when Jesus met with the disciples they asked him when he would ‘… restore the kingdom of Israel?’
The question asked by the disciples reveals their misunderstanding of Jesus’ purpose for being on the earth. It also reveals that they saw the resurrection in terms of Jesus having power, because he had defeated death by coming back to life. In their view, the Romans could not kill Jesus, so he must be a king after all.
Jesus’ response to their question shows how Jesus can deal gently, but firmly, with misunderstanding. You may remember that in other places in the gospels Jesus tells the disciples that they are slow to understand. So he is also able to be a little bit more blunt when he needs to.
In Jesus’ response it is as if he is saying: ‘You have asked the wrong question, but here is the answer to the question you should have asked’. They had asked the wrong question! Jesus says to them: ‘… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’
Now if that is the answer, what should the correct question have been? There is a clue in the question put to Jesus by the disciples. In their question they use the words ‘… are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ On the surface this would seem fine, as their focus is on Jesus and what he would do. However, Jesus’ response focuses on the disciples and what he wants them to do. The disciples should have been asking Jesus: ‘What do you want us to do?’
Learning to ask the right question takes our focus off what God can do for us, on to what God wants us to do.
Start each day with the question: ‘Lord Jesus, what do you want me to do?’ You’ll be surprised that he will give you the power to be his witness in your home, your work, your locality, your country and beyond!
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