Summary: That Jesus will return is a constant theme of the New Testament and a basic Christian teaching. His return could be near. Are we ready?
I’ve read recently about an inscription on the Dome of the Capitol building in Washington. It’s placed where few can see it. It’s a line from the poet Tennyson:
One far-off divine event to which all history moves.
That ’one far-off divine event’ is the one we pray for every time we say ’Thy Kingdom come’, as we pray for the coming of the day, not when the Church will conquer the world, but when all worldly empires give place to the Kingdom of God. And that will be ushered in by the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. That return, that second coming is a subject we think very little about, but it’s a core Christian belief; it’s the ’blessed hope’ (as Scripture puts it) of every believer; it’s part of the ’Mystery of Faith’ we proclaim week-by-week in the Communion Prayer:
Christ HAS died
Christ IS risen
Christ WILL come again.
Many of us, I trust, thank God daily that Christ has died, has died for their sins, that Christ is risen. Yet how often do we thank God that Christ will come back again.
I want say emphatically this morning that JESUS IS COMING BACK- literally and physically. When Jesus told his disciples as recorded in John 14 that he would return, many spiritualise that away, or maybe regard it as a promise of his resurrection, or even the sending of the Holy Spirit.
Of the truth of his return, the Scriptures leave us in no doubt. Every New Testament book except Galatians and the very short 2nd and 3rd letters of John mention it; as does one in 27 New Testament verses, and often in a way that leaves us in little doubt that his return will be physical, visible and unmistakable. Take Jesus’ own words in Matthew 24:30-31 At that time 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.
I want us to look into this subject this morning, seeing how we would react to it and would make three particular points:
* Jesus is coming; and coming soon!
* His coming will bring a separation (look at v40 in this morning’s Gospel)
* We should watch and be ready (look at v42)
So, firstly, Jesus is coming back soon.
I know there may be some here this morning who will feel a very hearty scepticism about that statement, and it is certainly a statement to take with some caution. Jesus said that only his Father knew the day and the hour of his return (a knowledge he did not share while in human flesh) and clearly warns us against date-setting. There have been many people who have made themselves look very foolish by naming the day and have caused many people considerable upset..
But- the Bible does give us very clear indications of various signs that will indicate that we live in the End Times. That many are very sceptical of this should cause us little surprise. Jesus says in our Gospel reading:
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the
days before the flood people were eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up
to the day that Noah entered the Ark.
The point here is not a statement about eating, drinking or marriage. No: Rather that although Noah had given warning of a coming flood, most people took no notice. They just carried on in pre-occupation with the everyday things of life as though nothing else mattered. "Things have always been the same, things always will be the same"
But, the Scriptures do give us these signs of when the End Times are upon us. Jesus mentions some of them in the early part of Matthew 24, as he replies to his disciples’ question in v4 Tell us when all this will happen (that was the Fall of Jerusalem) and what will be the sign of your coming at the end of the age?
One could speak (from Matthew 24) of many falling away from faith. One could speak of false prophets (and these abound today), of increasing wickedness (and things are worse than when most of us were children). One could speak about the world-wide preaching of the Gospel- and radio and TV have taken the Gospels to the far corners of the world. I would rather focus on the words of Jesus in verses 32 and 34:
Now learn the lesson of the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come
out, you know that summer is near...I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away