So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed 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 and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Luke alludes to the beautiful reality of God’s kingdom from commencement to fulfillment. Jesus’ followers did not understand that the inauguration of his kingdom began with his birth. The arrival of the King marked the beginning of his rule on earth, ushering in a heavenly kingdom and a new covenant. This kingdom instituted an economy of mercy whose only currency was grace. And when he ascended, he did not abandon us to live in a world bereft of the kingdom he established.
Instead, he sent his Spirit so that we might serve as the manifestation of his kingdom on earth, ministers of reconciliation pursuing justice and administering grace, battling sin and oppression while seeking redemption for all. His church is submissive to the one true King and exists as the city on a hill, the light shining in the darkness, a refuge for the broken and the needy, proclaiming the Gospel to the world while contending against the powers, principalities, and personalities that would themselves seek to reign.
Finally, his second coming will mark the consummation of the kingdom. At that time the kingdom will be made perfect and complete, as the voices of heaven proclaim, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
On that day, all that was undone in the garden will be restored; everything tainted by sin will be made clean. And until that day, the King has commissioned us to declare the magnificence and splendor of his kingdom to a world seeking satisfaction in everything less.
Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King;
Born to reign in us forever,
Now thy gracious kingdom bring.
- Come Thou Long Expected Jesus