Fact and Fiction about Jesus’ Return
Matthew 24:4-5, 23-51
April 26, 2009
One of the topics that fascinates Christianity more than probably any other is the topic of the second coming of Christ.
Books are written about it, sermons are preached about it, and when taken to extremes, cults are formed around it.
If a person isn’t careful, it can become an obsession that means more to them than actually living for Christ and helping others live for Him.
Jesus is returning. There’s no doubt about that. Jesus says so, and I’m willing to bet my life that He’s right.
But aside from that black-and-white truth, there is a whole lot of guessing, speculation, and downright error about His return.
God: Jesus points out three facts about His return in chapter 24, and I want us to take a look at them, contrasting them with the fictions that are out there regarding each of these. (p. 701)
We’re not going to read every verse in this passage, but we’re going to hit the main verses that highlight the facts about His return.
FICTION: He’s already back.
There is no shortage of people claiming to be Christ returned.
Examples: Lord Maitreya, Sun Yung Moon, Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda.
FACT: Jesus is coming back in the future.
Verses 4-5 –
4 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ’I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”
Then jump down to verses 23-26
23 At that time if anyone says to you, ’Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ’There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.
26 "So if anyone tells you, ’There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ’Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.
Pretty self-explanatory, don’t you think? If someone tells you Jesus has returned, they’re wrong. It’s pretty simple.
Amazing how many people fall this, isn’t it? It’s pretty obvious from this passage that Jesus has not already returned.
Here’s another piece of fiction that’s out there today:
FICTION: His return will be secret.
This idea, of course, is what’s behind all the false Christs popping up.
Obviously, if Jesus returned secretly, than it’s easy to convince some people that the one you believe is the Christ is really Jesus returned.
And for some reason, tons of people believe this piece of fiction, and they therefore fall for the lies of those who claim to be the second coming of Jesus.
FACT: His return will be public.
Verses 27-31 say this –
“For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
29 "Immediately after the distress of those days "’the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
30 "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Folks, there will be no mistaking the fact that Jesus has returned, when He has. It will be witnessed by the entire world.
When someone believes that Jesus has returned secretly, I have to wonder – did they miss this part of the passage?
How can anyone miss all this stuff – sun darkened, stars falling from the sky, planets shaking, and Jesus coming on the clouds with power and great glory?
“Secret Christs” don’t come with power and great glory. They come in all sneaky-like.
But when Jesus returns, it’ll be the most awesome event ever witnessed by humans.
It’ll be awesome in a good way for those who belong to Christ, because it’ll be the great blessed hope of our Savior gathering us to be with Him in glory forever.
It’ll be awesome in a bad way for those who are outside of Christ, and especially for those who have rejected Him.
They’ll see that they have made a mistake that they will pay for for eternity, and I believe that they will also anguish over those they’ve convinced to reject Jesus as well.
In any case, it will be public – with mighty power and great glory. Not sneaky and privately.
A third fiction that’s infecting our world today, and this one seems to be really invading the Church around the world, is this:
FICTION: We can know when He’s coming back.
This goes from setting actual dates to saying that while we might not know the date, we can guess the year.
So many in the church try to figure all this out by trying to work through the prophecies of Daniel and others, and the next thing you know, they’re saying that it’s this year or next year.
History is filled with examples of those who predicted the date of Jesus return, and they were all wrong. Every one of them.
FACT: No one knows when He’s coming back.
V. 36 –
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
V. 42 –
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
V. 44 –
“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Okay, I’ve been beating this drum for a while, but – how confusing is this? He says we don’t know, and won’t know. In Acts He says it’s not for us to know.
To me, this is as obvious not trusting politicians to spend your money wisely. I mean, come on, folks!
But we still have people, many of whom call themselves Christians trying to set dates for Jesus’ return.
Hello! Is Jesus just being stupid here? I don’t think so!
And let’s not get into this: “We don’t know the day and hour, but we can know the year and what time of year.”
That’s nit-picky semantics. The bottom line is that Jesus says His return will come without warning – at an hour when we don’t expect Him.
People are going to be living their lives as if nothing were going to happen, as Jesus mentions in verses 37-41 –
37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
How many of you have read all or part of the “Left Behind” series? Did you find yourself getting so wrapped up in it that you started to become a bit obsessed with the end times? I hope not. But some do.
I want to show you a humorous video about a prank pulled on a young lady who was totally wrapped up in that series. It’s about five minutes long.
Jesus is coming back, and when He does, all creation will know it. And
And here’s something else you have to understand in regard to Jesus’ return:
For any of these fictions to be true, Jesus would have to be a liar. And He is not a liar.
You: Two HUGE applications from this Scripture passage:
1. Be sure you’re a Christian.
Be sure that you have put your trust in Christ, asking Him to save you from paying the penalty you deserve for your sins, and asking Him to help you live for Him.
Be sure that you’re not trusting in your church attendance, or your baptism, or your spiritual heritage.
Why is that so important? Because Jesus could come back at any time. And only those in Christ will be gathered by Him for that eternity in heaven.
And if you haven’t turned to Christ for that forgiveness of sins and a home in heaven, you’ll miss out.
2. Be doing the Master’s work.
Verses 44-45 –
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.”
What’s the Master’s work?
Loving Him and living for Him and…
Helping others do the same.
If you’re doing all you can with the help of God to do that, you can be pretty sure that if Jesus returns in our lifetime, you will be caught up with Him as He gathers His people from around the world.
If we’ll spend more time on living for Christ then trying to figure out the end times, then we won’t have to worry about the timing of Jesus’ return. We’ll anticipate it and we’ll welcome it, whenever it happens.
We: Why do so many people fall for the lies we’ve looked at today?
I can think of a couple reasons:
One is that they’re desperate for hope, and they’re ready to grasp at any straw they can find to offer that hope and give them meaning in life.
For some reason or another they’re hurting and they believe that this person has what they need to heal the hurt.
Another reason is that the Church has not stepped up and lived like they really believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.
People look at the Church around the world, and particularly in the US, and they see the same self-centeredness they see in the world, and it’s even more disgusting because people try to justify it or rationalize it away by cloaking it in religion.
Or they’re hurting, or made a mistake and sinned in some way and all they get from the Church is condemnation, rather than the love that says, “Christ can do something about for you. Let me show Him to you.”
I can tell you right now that I know people who have joined cults because they found love and acceptance from a false religion that they couldn’t find in the Church.
I’m not saying we condone sin or just look the other way. I’m saying we offer what Christ offered you and me: the forgiveness of God and love from His family.
Shame on us for putting up blocks to people finding Christ so they go looking until they find one of the false Christs around to steal their souls.
So you see, it’s not just an issue of shoving a Bible in someone’s face and telling them off.
We need to be a people who demonstrate in our everyday living that Jesus is the way. That Jesus is the source of real meaning and significance in life. The Jesus offers hope for their longings and their sufferings because His Word bears out our own experiences.
Let them see that the Jesus of the Scriptures is the real Christ. The Savior who loves them so much He came to die for them and is coming again to take them to heaven with them, and who in the meantime wants to care for them in every circumstance and situation, no matter how good or bad.
Let’s do our part to help them find Christ – Jesus Christ so they can live by the facts instead of dying by the fiction that’s out there.