Bible Society of South Africa

Me less – God more – 16 September 2022

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

Jesus is Taken Up to Heaven

6When the apostles met together with Jesus, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time give the Kingdom back to Israel?”

For many weeks and months, Jesus instructed his followers about the kingdom of heaven. Now, the time for saying goodbye was drawing near. When they were having a meal together, Jesus told them that the promise that John the Baptist made in Matthew 3:11 was going to be fulfilled: “I baptise you with water … he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” The time was ripe for this to happen and so Jesus said, “… in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.” For many Jews, the promise of the Holy Spirit as prophesied by Joel 2:28 onwards, was a sign of sovereignty and, thus, the establishment of the kingdom of God in the world.

The disciples were not able to distance themselves from their history and culture, and immediately after Jesus’ announcement, they wanted to know if it was the time for the kingdom of Israel to be restored. To his followers, the kingdom of heaven, of which Jesus spoke so often, was inseparable from the political kingdom of Israel. Jesus does not give a definite no to their question. He still wants to take them with him on the road to understanding.

Jesus told them that it is not necessary to try and know when and what God is going to do – that is his domain. What is very important though is that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on them and then they will be “… my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria, and to the ends of the world”. Jesus actually told them not to be concerned with when the kingdom of Israel will be restored, but to rather, by the power of the Holy Spirit, concentrate on proclaiming the kingdom of heaven everywhere. Very often, we also yearn for our own little kingdoms. What God wants us to do, is to forget about our own kingdoms and to be busy with his kingdom.

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help me to be busy with your kingdom every day, and to find ways and places where I can proclaim it. Amen

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