Friday, January 21, 2011

Epiphany in Acts

The church holiday that happens in the beginning of the book of Acts is the Pentecost, but in my Bible study Wednesday I had an epiphany I thought I would share with you.

Acts 1:6  "So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, 'Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?'"

Do you see it?  Even though Jesus spent three years teaching his followers, they did not understand God's plan.  Even after he rose from the dead they didn't understand.  When I read the gospels it seems clear that Jesus told them he was going to be killed and rise again.  

John 2:19-22  "Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.'  The Jews then said, 'It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?' But He was speaking of the temple of His body.  So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken."

Certainly if I had been there I would have understood--not.  Jesus followers' had a vision of what a savior would do.  He would save them from the evil empire and raise Israel into power.  It was a devastating shock to them when Jesus was killed.  How could he save them?  I imagine they spent those three days in a lot of turmoil--"Lord, I believe, but...what...?"

Then three days later, he is risen.  Miracle of miracles he is back.  And he spent the next 40 days teaching them and reminding them he is going to leave again and send the Holy Spirit. 

John 16:7 "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you."
And they ask, 'Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?'

Or as I would have said it, "Okay, Lord.  When you died my plans for the future died with you.  Obviously you cannot become King if you are dead.  You must have been working on something else.  But now, now, you are alive again.  Praise God.  Now you are going to kick out those mean Romans and restore Israel to our former glory, right?" 

How many times does something get in the way of the plans I have?  Then some miracle happens and it is clear that God's plan was better, would bring Him more glory, and mature me more than my original expectation.  Praise God.  And then I jump back to my original plan.  It didn't happen yesterday, but today, Lord?  Sure there are times when my plans line up with God's plans and there are road blocks to showcase God's glory but the plan doesn't change (truly praying my family adopting is one of those).  But sometimes it is about learning an eternal perspective and not limiting what God can do to what I think He is planning to do.

If Jesus had lived "up to" the expectations of his followers before his death, he would not have died for our sins and been resurrected thus saving the whole world from sin not just the Israelites from Rome.

If Jesus had lived "up to" the expectations of his followers after his resurrection and stayed to lead Israel out of the hands of the Romans, he would not have ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to us.

I'm sure you don't need this, but I needed the reminder that I don't worship a God that lives down to my expectations.  I worship a God that lifts me up to His expectations if I'm willing to just let go of my limited understanding and lean on His.  

1 comment:

No Greater Love said...

Oh my word....I love this. This is so like our sermons recently.