Expectation and Disappointment (Gen. 3:15; Luke 24:19–21)
Ever since the promise in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:15), the people of God had been waiting for a Redeemer. They carefully recorded every birth and could easily trace someone’s ancestry all the way back to the 12 tribes, Abraham, and even Adam. Every woman anxiously hoped to give birth to a man—hoping that her son would be the Messiah.
However, as time passed, the nations of the earth grew, and the people of God became more and more oppressed. This caused the Jews to lose sight of the original promise and start expecting someone to restore an earthly kingdom.
This was the climate of Israel at the time when Jesus was born: the Jews were expecting someone to free them from their political oppressors—not free them from their sins. Jesus spent three years minstering with His disciples, trying to clear up this misconception.
Just as they’re getting ready to start the race, Jesus basically says, “Ready, set, wait.”
Even so, we see in Luke 24:19–21 that the disciples were still wanting an earthly kingdom restored. While on the road to Emmaus, they tell the man who is walking with them all about Jesus. They tell of His deeds and words but also of His crucifixion and their disappointment because they “ ‘were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel’ ” (verse 21, NKJV). Imagine the disappointment when this Man in whom they had placed all their hope was delivered to be crucified.
Foolish Ones (Luke 24:25)
However, instead of comforting them, Jesus calls them fools and slow of heart to believe. It seems a little harsh for Jesus to scold someone for not understanding something. That’s why it’s important to note that Jesus does not say they have difficulty understanding—just believing. This is made clear in the next verse, when He asks the leading question, “ ‘Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things?’ ” (verse 26, NKJV). Since Jesus had explained these things to them over and over again throughout His ministry, the obvious answer is, “Yes, of course,” but they don’t answer.
Jesus proceeds to go through all the prophecies about the Messiah in the Scriptures, pointing out that they foreshadowed His persecution and death. These men were not confused by the prophecies. Jesus had spent so much time with them that it was almost impossible for them to misunderstand the mission of the Messiah. The only thing that made them foolish was how much they were clinging to their own ideas rather than believing the promises in the Scriptures.
Witnesses (Luke 24:30, 31, 34)
It isn’t until they arrive at their destination and Jesus breaks bread with them that their eyes are opened and they finally grasp what is happening (verses 30, 31). At this point, they not only understand but believe, and they excitedly go to the others and share that “ ‘the Lord is risen indeed’ ” (verse 34).
While all of this is happening, Jesus appears to all of the disciples and again explains to them the prophecies about the Christ and how He had to suffer and die and be raised from the dead. Then He explains that they need to be His witnesses and share what they’ve seen and understood with everyone, not just the Jews.
Restoration (Acts 1:6, 7; Luke 24:48, 49)
The only problem is that the disciples, now ready to run and tell the world the good news, are told that they have to wait: “ ‘Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high’ ” (verses 48, 49, NKJV). So here they are, on the Mount of Olives, ready for His ascension. They’ve learned at the feet of Jesus for more than three years. They’ve seen His miracles. They’ve heard His words.
They finally understand and believe the prophecies. They are ready to tell the world about the spiritual rebuilding—not political rebellion—that Jesus came to implement. And just as they’re getting ready to start the race, Jesus basically says, “Ready, set, wait.”
They have this amazing news to share with the world—the truth about the Messiah’s mission and the restoration of Israel, but Jesus tells them that they need more preparation; their human strength will not suffice for such a monumental task. Before they can go into the world and do all the things they need to do, they must receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Hearing this, the disciples ask Jesus, “ ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ ” (Acts 1:6, NKJV). This time, contrary to the first time the restoration is brought up, Jesus does not scold them. He knows that they’re not asking because of a lack of understanding of His mission, nor are they asking due to a lack of belief. He knows they are anxious to see the fulfillment of His promises. So He instead tells them that it’s not for them to know the times or the seasons. Their job is simply to go into the world and make disciples.
1. Do you feel as though you’ve been waiting for a long time for God to fulfill a promise? Could it be possible that you have misunderstood that promise? Pray for God to make His will clear to you.
2. Are you slow to believe the promises and prophecies that God has already made clear? Why? What could help build your confidence in those promises?
3. Maybe there’s something in your life that you’ve been anxious to start but haven’t been able to. It’s OK to delay, especially if God is asking you to wait for His blessing.