6 So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”
Today’s scripture begins with a quote we have alluded to before, “Will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Imagine this, if you will. The disciples were only looking out for their own skins and still expecting miraculous deliverance from their current situation of persecution under the authorities of Rome, and imagining that the only way out was for a political solution, taking the authority away from Rome and returning it to Israel. Yet, when Israel had been granted a little bit of leeway from the Rome, they used that leeway to free a criminal (Barabbas) and crucify Jesus! What could the disciples had been thinking?
The Lord’s response to them was an incredible piece of wisdom. Instead of debating political affairs with them He goes straight to th heart of the matter. We will be using some of the thinking of the great 19th-Century theologian Charles H. Spurgeon1 in our analysis today. In an sermon entitled “Witnessing Better Than Knowing the Future,” Spurgeon describes the passage by Jesus as containing three parts: some things which are not for us; some things which we are to receive; and something for us to be.
First, the things which are not for us. We are not to know the “times or the seasons.” in other words, we are not to know the future with a certainty. The Father has, by virtue of His own authority, set certain times. The Book of Revelation has an outline of several of these times, such as the Return of Christ(aka the Second Coming), the New Heavens and the New Earth. But as to just when these things are to occur, only the Father knows. Jesus Himself admitted as much in Matthew 24:36; even Jesus Himself is not privy to the knowledge of when He will return. That does not stop us from trying to guess; even in the 19th century Spurgeon said there were “miles of books” trying to determine an exact date. It’s the age-old problem of having to wait on the promise of the Father.
Second, there are things which we are to receive. Jesus here states that we are to receive power. We all want power. Power over our lives, our destinies, our careers. But this self-serving power is not what Jesus is referring to. Rather, this power comes from the Holy Spirit coming upon you. When the Holy Spirit comes upon a person (or, in modern parlance, baptizes a person), He does enable a person to have the types of power referred to above. Rather, He starts a work inside of you to transform you into the image of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). And what Jesus wants you to do is to be witnesses of Him.
This leads into the third part of today’s Scripture: something for us to be. Going back to Spurgeon, he says the verse does not say that we are to “act as witnesses,” but to, quite literally, be witnesses. We are to witness to what we have been taught through knowledgeable Bible teachers; we are to witness to what Christ has done in an through us, too. Not all of it necessarily has to be in the arena of preaching. A changed life speaks more volumes than any amount of preaching.
Why not ask Jesus to change your life today? Pray with me: “Dear Jesus, I believe that You lived, died, and was resurrected from the dead for my salvation. I accept You into my heart, Lord Jesus. Please change me from the inside out, that I may be Your witness. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
1The quotes from Spurgeon come from http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/2330.htm
Rev. R. R. Hildebrand