Acts 1:6 is one of the most remarkable verses in the Bible, and it has a wonderful lesson for us today.
Here’s what it says:
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” | Acts 1:6
If you read Acts, you’ll notice that this happened right after Jesus’ resurrection. After He rose from the dead, Jesus appeared to His followers during 40 days, showing them “many proofs” and “speaking about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). It was then that they asked Him about restoring the kingdom to Israel.
So why is that remarkable? Well, as you probably know, the Israelites wanted so badly for Jesus to lead a military campaign against the Roman Empire. They were sick and tired of the Romans, and they wanted Jesus to help them reestablish Israel’s independence. One day they even forcibly tried to make Jesus king:
When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. | John 6:14–15
But time and again, Jesus reminded His followers that He wasn’t there to start a war against Rome or restore Israel’s political clout.
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” | John 18:36
Again and again we see that Jesus was more interested in the kingdom of God than the kingdom of Israel.
And so the reason Acts 1:6 is remarkable is because it shows us that the apostles still didn’t get it. Even after all those teachings about the kingdom of heaven, even after the crucifixion and resurrection, they still expected Him to overthrow the Roman Empire.
They didn’t understand that He was focused on spiritual things and restoring people to God—not restoring the nation of Israel to its former glory.
The Israelites thought their biggest problem was Rome, and that’s what they constantly focused on. But Jesus knew they were missing the point. Jesus knew that their biggest problem wasn’t Rome.
Their biggest problem was sin.
And so He carried out an audacious rescue plan—not to save Israel from her oppressors, but to save Israelites (and everyone else) from their sins.
How fortunate for us that Jesus was the Savior for the whole world, not just a Jewish political figure 2,000 years ago!
On the practical side, all this makes me wonder if we, like the apostles, misinterpret God’s work in our lives.
Do we want Him to merely be the fixer of our problems, or the Lord of our lives?
Maybe you, like the apostles, are frustrated because God isn’t answering some prayer or changing some difficult situation. But what if that’s not because He’s ignoring you, but rather because He’s doing something much bigger, much better?
Think about your prayer life. We all pray that God would help us do well at work and find a good spouse and heal our ailing relatives, but does it end there?
Do our prayers and our general focus in life reflect the bigness of God, or the pettiness of our everyday concerns?
Way back in the 1st century, Christ did something momentous and magnificent, but His followers nearly missed it because they were so incredibly short-sighted and focused on earthly things. Today, in the 21st century, let’s not miss what God is doing in and around us. God is at work in you, in me, and in the people we know. He’s growing us, sanctifying us, empowering us. He’s changing our lives and advancing His kingdom, every day. That’s so exciting!