Acts 1:6-8 – Then they gathered around 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.”
It’s very strange. You would think after everything – the promise of the Spirit, the dramatic events of Easter, not to mention Jesus’ repeated warnings throughout the gospel to not speculate about the end times – that the apostles wouldn’t ask such a question as the one stated here. After all, with the resurrection of Jesus the great end time event has already happened. But such is our curiosity for apocalyptic and, fair enough, our desire for the world to be totally restored, that they ask it anyway: ‘Are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’
Jesus’ reply, it must be said, is a little bit cryptic. And ever since we’ve been debating exactly what he means. He doesn’t rubbish their question but neither does he elaborate. Indeed, he seems to discourage too much knowledge full stop, wanting us instead to get on with the urgent business of bearing witness to the gospel – first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles – even to the very ends of the earth. No wonder we need a Pentecost.
Lord, keep me away from too much speculation and grip me instead with your mission in the world. Amen.