In the first century A.D. a small number of people held on to the conviction that they were a part of something wonderful and unique. These people looked back on a history that ranged from the dark days of the era of the judges to the glory days of the monarchy, times of judgment and exile, oppression and challenge to now living under the occupation of Rome and the oppression of corrupt leaders.
These were people whose hearts hurt when they observed their land being exploited and their God being dishonored. They longed for the promise that one day the Promised One would come and set His people free. Yet, even most of this small group were not expecting the events to unfold as they did.
They were looking for a conquering King who would come and vanquish the oppressors and reestablish Israel to the days of glory. (Acts 1:6) Like us, they were looking for relief from their hardships rather than for the remedy God was bringing into the world.
In many ways a lot of us are like that small number of people in the first century.