Author: Patrick Krentz Th.M., Managing Writer for Foundations by ICM
Easter is over. Eggs were painted, the ham was eaten, and traditional songs were sung on the church lawn at sunrise. What’s next? We don’t have another religious holiday on the schedule for most of the year. Let me suggest that, while we spend Easter day looking back at what Jesus accomplished, we should also spend some time looking forward to what he is still going to do.
If you read the Gospels you will notice they don’t end with the resurrection. After rising from the dead, Jesus hangs out with his followers for a while, teaching them and telling them he will be coming back–the Second Coming of Christ. This quickly became, and still is, one of the most misunderstood things that Jesus talked about. Thankfully, Jesus did not leave us in the dark.
Let’s take some time to look at 5 things Jesus tells us about his return.
1. He will return
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if Igo and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”(John 14:1-3)
This first one may seem obvious, but it also needs to be abundantly clear. We are not merely hoping he might someday return. He promised that he would. He reassured his followers that he would not leave them alone. He gave three promises of assurance; first, that he would be with us always (Matthew28:20); second, that he would send his Spirit to be our comforter, guide, and teacher (John 14:4-15); and of course, third, that he would return.
2. Nobody knows when Jesus will return
“So if anyone tells you, ‘There He is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here He is, in the innerrooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:26-27)
Jesus made it very clear that anyone claiming to know when he would return is a fraud. He says this on several occasions. He also exhorted his followers to keep watch and to always be ready, because he could return at any moment (Matthew 25:13). As we read these words some 2000 years later, keep in mind that they are not any less true. Consider also Mark 13:33, and Luke 12:40.
3. He is coming quickly
“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”(Revelation 22:12)
Considering that it has been so long, how can this be true? When the New Testament refers to his return coming quickly, being ‘near’ or ‘at hand’, it is not referring to the order of events in history, but rather to the manner in which they will occur. That is, he is not necessarily returning soon in terms of a short amount of time, but that when he returns it will happen quickly. Listen to what Jesus says in revelation 16:15, “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake…”
Indeed, it would not make sense for Jesus to tell us, on the one hand, that nobody knows when he would return, while on the other hand, telling us that he would return in a short period of time.
4. He will gather to himself all who belong to him
“Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”(Matthew 24:30-31)
When he comes, he will rescue all his elect from across the earth. Paul comforts the church of Thessalonica with these words: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet theLord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”(Thessalonians 4:16-17)
Whether this is what many call the Rapture, or whether this will happen at the Second Coming, the fact remains that he will gather up all believers and they will be with him forevermore.
5. He will defeat all the enemies of God’s people
“Behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.”(Malachi 4:1)
On the cross, Jesus defeated death. At his resurrection, Jesus sealed our victory and life in him. When he comes back, he will defeat the last enemies of God. Consider the account of the final battle from Revelation 19:19-21:
“And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against him who sat on the horse and against His army. And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.”
The imagery is graphic and gruesome but also incredibly reassuring. Jesus will return quickly at a time when we are not expecting him, he will gather us to himself to be with him forever, and he will defeat all of our enemies.
These are amazing promises, all of which are made possible by the accomplishments of Jesus at the first Easter. As the holiday season fades, let these words of promise encourage you to make yourself ready for his return.