After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

While He was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “This,” He said, “is what you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, at this time are You restoring the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.” (Acts 1:3-11)

It’s a wonder anyone ever understands anything anyone else says. Jesus had died and been resurrected. He’d spent years telling his disciples about the kingdom of God. But just before he ascended back to his Father, the disciples, with their one question, demonstrate that they were nearly as confused about the kingdom as they had been the first day Jesus called them to join him along the shores of Galilee.

The disciples were still looking for a physical kingdom. Did Jesus remind them of any of his previous lessons to them? No. He just told them to be his witnesses throughout the world. If we want to see the kingdom of God, then we need to get to work spreading the good news. That’s how the kingdom will come: one heart at a time.

After Jesus left, angels appeared and asked them why they were still standing there, staring at the sky. Wasn’t staring at the sky where Jesus had gone a normal reaction? Certainly. But the Holy Spirit was coming and the disciples had work to do. What matters is not staring at the sky, waiting for Jesus to come back. What matters is for us to do what Jesus asked his disciples to do: spread the good news of the kingdom.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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