I've started reading through the weekly meditations found in the NLT Holy Bible Mosaic. (Thanks to Sean Harrison at Tyndale House Publishers for passing along a review copy. A complete review will be forthcoming.) One of the page-long quotations struck me for how well it describes the pattern common to many millenarian movements: hope is placed on messianic figure > reality fails expectations > crisis of faith > renewal of hope OR failure of movement. It is interesting to note how short-lived most millenarian movements are. The inevitable crisis usually results in failure of the movement. (I've had a fascination with studying messianic movements ever since I was a teenager in 1993 watching the David Koresh debacle unfold in Waco.)
This quote is from Augustus Neander (Germany; 1789-1850):
The death of Christ annihilated at a stroke the Messianic expectations of the Apostles. Their dejection was complete. But if, of all that they had hoped, nothing was ever realized, this dejection could not have passed away. . . .
We cannot explain (not bare conceivable possibilities, but) the actual state of the case, viz., the dejection of the Apostles at first, and what they were and did afterward. There must be some intermediate historical fact to explain the transition; something must have occurred to revive, with new power, the almost effaced impression; to bring back the flow of their faith which had so far ebbed away.
The reappearance, then, of Christ among his disciples is a connecting link in the chain of events which cannot possibly be spared. It acted thus: Their sunken faith in his promises received a new impulse when these promises were repeated by Him, risen from the dead; his reappearance formed the point of contact for a new spiritual communion with him, never to be dissolved, nay, thenceforward to be developed ever more and more.
According to their own unvarying asseverations, it was the foundation of their immovable faith in his person, and in himself as Messiah and Son of God; as well as of their steadfast hope, in his communion, of a blissful, everlasting life, triumphing over death. Without it they never could have had that inspiring assurance of faith with which they everywhere testified of what they had received and joyfully submitted to tortures and to death.
"Hoping for Hope: Advent, Week 2," p. 22. Holy Bible: Mosaic. Carol Stream, Il: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2009.