Imagine being one of the 12 disciples. You’ve surrendered your life to Jesus, He said “Follow Me” and you dropped everything and followed, you listened and watched Him teach in the temple and on hillsides, and went to Him for His instruction every day for more than three years. Now imagine that the very Messiah you’ve followed, the One who came to save the world, is betrayed, nailed to a cross, and buried. Seemingly gone forever. In the space of 24 hours, the hope you’d placed your life upon has been beaten, nailed to a cross, and buried in a tomb.
Few, if any of us can fully envision the terror the disciples felt. The hero they’d followed, the One able to heal the sick and raise the dead, had been killed. While it must have been devastating, it opened the disciples to hearing the one message they weren’t able to hear while Jesus was alive. They had hoped for an earthly Messiah, but they were to discover that Jesus was much more than that.
In the Gospels we see that Jesus is practically obsessed with the idea of the kingdom of God; it was so important to Him that it is mentioned more than 100 times. And Acts 1:3 says that following the resurrection, Jesus “appeared to them during forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3).
Jesus was preparing His apostles for their mission after His departure, teaching them about His true kingdom, and about their responsibility to build it on earth. This kingdom was to be a new way for God’s people to live under His authority and rule. It would be different from every earthly kingdom, because it would turn the world’s values on their head. It called for a revolution, not of force and violence but of values and ideas. And those involved were to carry it out by leading fruitful, kingdom-centered lives.
This kingdom would turn the world upside down. We see in Acts 17 that when Paul and Silas were teaching the gospel in the synagogue in Thessalonica some Jews became very jealous and said, “These men who have turned the world upside down…” But we also read that, “some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.” Throughout the book of Acts we see that through the lives of followers of Jesus the kingdom of God was expanded.
Today, we are still called to this very mission of expanding the kingdom of God on earth, knowing that it has the power to turn the world upside down. As Pastor Nate preached several years ago, we are still writing the book of Acts. So let’s continue to devote our lives to turning this world upside down!