Jesus' Second Coming | Matthew 24

Welcome to Real Life. “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.”[1] These words were proclaimed every Sunday in the church I attended while growing up. I understood that Jesus died and rose again. But, I never thought about the “Christ will come again” part. 

In the days before Jesus is crucified, he warns the disciples that he will soon die. But, the cross will not be the end. He will rise from the dead. Afterwards, he will go to heaven to prepare a place for them. Then, he promises to return for them at a later date. The disciples ask, “Tell us what will be the sign of your coming?” 

“No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen,” Jesus says. He gives four word pictures to emphasize one point: his return will be unexpected. 

First Picture. It will be like Noah’s day. People were throwing parties, getting married, and living their everyday lives right up until the moment the flood swept them away. I've seen footage of the angry wall of water that wiped out entire cities in the 2011 Japanese tsunami. Christ's return will be like thatquick, without warning.

Second Picture. Two co-workers are stocking shelves at Walmart. Suddenly, one disappears; the other is left flabbergasted. A sales rep is pitching her product to a client. In an instant, one of them is gone. This mysterious disappearing of Christians is known as the “rapture.” When Christ returns, he will appear in the eastern sky, and Christians will meet him in the air. Those who don’t know Christ will be left behind on earth. The book series Left Behind (currently being filmed as a motion picture starring Nicholas Cage) is based on this event. Christ’s return will be sudden and unexpected. 

Third scene. A family has gone camping for the weekend. While away, a thief breaks into their home in the middle of the night and steals jewelry, cash, laptops, game consoles, and more. If the family had known in advance which night the thief was coming, they would have stayed home and kept watch over the house. Jesus will come as unexpectedly as a thief in the night. 

Fourth scene. A business owner hires a manager to oversee his company. Then, the owner leaves town on an extended business trip. At first, the new manager performs his duties with great care. However, the longer the owner is gone, the more lax the manager becomes. He starts skimming from the books, promoting friends, and drinking at the corner bar instead of working. One day, without warning, the owner returns. He finds the manager drunkenly yelling and choking an employee. Immediately, the owner fires the manager and has him arrested. Like the business owner, Jesus will return on an ordinary day when he is least expected. 


“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming” (Matt. 24:42 NLT) 



“Perhaps today!” was the reminder on a pin I used to wear. When I first gave my life to Christ, I often thought of his return. I’d look to the eastern sky, imagine the clouds parting and Jesus appearing in all his glory.[2]

Decades have passed. Jesus
 hasn't returned yet. In addition, it’s been 2000 years since he died and rose again. Do I still believe Christ could appear at any moment? Am I still watching for him? 

Jesus’ first coming (his birth in Bethlehem) had been prophesied for 4000 years before it occurred. Beginning with Adam and Eve, and through the Old Testament prophets God continually promised to send a Messiah. Jesus, the Messiah, came. Over 1500 times in both Old and New Testament Scriptures, God has promised that Christ will return. And God keeps his promises.

Jesus could return today. However, even if his second coming is delayed another thousand years, he’ll come for me sooner than that. At the most, I'll live another 50 years. But, I'm not promised my next breath. He could come for me today (car accident, heart attack, brain aneurysm).

These contemplations used to frighten me. I felt like a child who might be called to the principal’s office at any moment. However, the longer I know Jesus, the more love and peace I experience in his presence, and the more I desire to see his face. The thought, “Perhaps today!” gives me great joy. I often pray,



“Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” 

My only hesitation is that so many friends and loved ones don’t know Christ. If he returns today, they won’t enter God’s kingdom. They’ll be left behind.
 


“I Wish We’d All Been Ready” 
Song by the late Larry Norman (1947-2008)

Life was filled with guns and war 
And all of us got trampled on the floor 
I wish we’d all been ready


The children died, the days grew cold 
A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold 
I wish we’d all been ready

There's no time to change your mind 
The Son has come and you've been left behind

A man and wife asleep in bed 
She hears a noise and turns her head he's gone 
I wish we’d all been ready


Two men walking up a hill 
One disappears and one’s left standing still 
I wish we’d all been ready


The Father spoke, the demons dined 
How could you have been so blind? 
I hope we’ll all be ready


You've been left behind

Taking it further …

  • Are you ready? Will you open your heart to Jesus today? He’s just a prayer away. Call 1-888-NEED-HIM, or visit www.needhim.org for more information.
  • To learn more about the biblical prophecies of Christ’s second coming, check out www.truthnet.org (esp. the link for “The Seventy Weeks of Daniel”). 
  • Joel Rosenburg writes both fiction and non-fiction books based on end-time prophesies:  www.joelrosenberg.com
[1] Memorial Acclamation, Liturgy
[2] Matthew 24:30
Sunset image by my son Calvin Tustan.

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