All this was, of course, before I joined them. I have spoken to many of them, gathered their stories, and they ring true. Their expectations of Messiah ring true – I shared them myself, the preoccupation with what Messiah’s coming would mean. Somewhere down the centuries we had all lost sight of the Grand Plan. We had lost Ezekiel’s vision of a throne at the centre of an eternal Kingdom, and were thinking only of the kingdom of Israel. Surely the cruel oppression under the Romans was not part of the divine plan? Surely Messiah’s coming would restore the kingdom to Israel?
And so we narrowed down even Messiah Himself to a sort of mega-Herod who would kick out the Romans, so that even after His resurrection, when they gathered in that upper room to await the as yet inconceivable promise of the Father, their preoccupation was with the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. “Is it now that You will restore it, Lord?”
He didn’t correct their error, or tell them their thinking was too mundane. He simply replied that it was not for them to know the timings of God’s great schemes. Their role was to wait until they received power, the power that would surge through them when the Holy Spirit came upon them, after which they would be His witnesses, the living embodiment of His message throughout the region and even to the remotest corners of earth.
I chuckle now when I look back at our petty fixations. When the Spirit did come, all thought of Israel’s place in the world vanished entirely from our thinking. We had seen, felt, experienced a greater Kingdom, one whose boundaries lay beyond the farthest reaches of human imagination, and our passion was to bring as many people as we could within its borders, enfolded by its benign rule, spurred on by a King whose transcendent glory we had all underestimated when He walked among us.