Roots (Jesus’ Return)

The Lord is coming back

Early Christians emphasized and focused on the return of Jesus to the earth. They thought of his return as the second half to the gospel message. What I mean is that while the primary message to people was the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, only the return of Jesus and the events surrounding his return really bring the full message of Jesus home and answer the question of “So, now what?”

This means that the “good news” about Jesus does not end with his death and resurrection. After he was raised back to life he appeared to hundreds of people over a period of 40 days, eating and talking with them, and then he ascended up to heaven before their eyes. It is written that while his disciples were gazing up into the sky as Jesus ascended, an angel appeared and said, “men of Galilee, why do you stare up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up into heaven will descend from heaven in the same way.”

The hope of Resurrection

The eagerness that the early Christians had in expecting Jesus’ return was wrapped up in a promise that Jesus made to them. That upon his return, there would be a resurrection of all people who are “in Christ,” both dead and alive. The promise was that these people would receive an immortal body just like the one Jesus was resurrected with after his crucifixion, and that they would “rule and reign with Christ” on earth.[1]

This is why Paul, when writing to the believers in Philippi, told them that the way to “stand firm in the Lord” was by “eagerly anticipating a savior from heaven” who will “transform our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body.”[2] It is also why Peter wrote that we should “set our hope fully on the grace to be given us when Jesus Christ is revealed.”[3]

The return of Jesus and our own resurrection is the “hope” of Christianity. It is the future event that God promises us and that anchors us down in an evil and uncertain world. And it is from this hope that both our faith and love come from.[4] Without this hope we have no objective reason to put our faith in God and love other people. This is why this promise of God is so vitally important.

Are you a watcher or a sleeper?

When Jesus taught about all the signs that would precede his return, he ended with a  very clear command for us to follow. “Therefore, keep watch because you do not know when the Master of the house will return…he may arrive without notice and find you sleeping…what I tell you, I tell to everyone. Keep watch!”[5]

Jesus described the events and circumstances that will precede his return (definitely sounds like the past 100 years) and then basically told everyone to wake up and pay attention. The choice is ours, we can either be a sleeper or a watcher.

Final thought

It is clear that just about everyone desires to have a healthy and strong body, whether or not we have the will power and/or genetics to get there is another thing. I think it is really cool that the gift of God is something that satisfies this desire, a body that is free of aches and pains, disease and disability, and one that we will live in for all eternity…sign me up!

 

[1] 2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 20:6

[2] Philippians 3:20-4:1

[3] 1 Peter 1:13

[4] Colossians 1:5

[5] Mark 13:35-37

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