Summary: Exegetical; hard times cause us to long for Jesus’ return, which in turn prepares us for the Second Coming.
Author: J. Clark Sneed
Date: 18 December 2005
Title: Longing for Jesus’ Return
Text: Luke 17:22-27
Dominating Theme: Preparation
Thrust: Be prepared.
“And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and you shall not see it.
The disciples sit with Jesus and listen. If they want, they may reach out their rough hands and touch the warm flesh of their Master. Soon, however, Jesus will be taken from them, and crucified. Three days later the Father raises his Son from the chilly grave, and the risen Son of God spends more time with the apostles before he rises into the clouds. The next chapter of their adventure begins. They will watch the Holy Spirit of God expand his kingdom through God’s Church. This continues through each age, and we too have the warning from God: days are going to come when you long for Jesus’ return.
Let me ask you a question. Does the average believer long more for the Lord’s return during times of plenty or times of want? Times of ease or times of suffering? It is my experience, though not always, that the combination of plenty and ease breeds spiritual lethargy in the kingdom of God. It’s a tragedy that God’s blessings cause us to forget or neglect the Blessor. Do you know where the church is experiencing her greatest growth? Asia. Africa. Latin America. Especially among for poor and persecuted. A Chinese pastor of an oppressed, underground church once met with a visiting American pastor on a mission trip. The American, overwhelmed by the poverty, says to the other, ”we pray for you in your poverty.” The Chinese pastor responds, ”Oh, no, brother. We pray for you in your wealth.“ Here we pray for the persecution to end. I regularly write to the foreign embassies in Washington asking politely but firmly for them to end the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ. But many times I’ve been told by these persecuted Christians, ”Don’t pray for the persecution to end. Pray we will endure it faithfully.“ They call it, ”the way of the cross.“ For many, believers expect suffering when they choose Christ. Here we dump as much sugar and honey as we can on religion to appeal to the people. Imagine the heart of your evangelism strategy being ”Jesus will save you from eternal hell, but accepting his free gift will introduce you to a different hell on earth.“
Our verse says, the days will come that you along for my return because the suffering here will be so great. Paul warns his apprentice Timothy in second Timothy 3:1-5: ”this know also. that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.“
But Paul, you’re not been very optimistic about the future. Oh, just wait! He’s not finished! Look at verse 12, ”Yeah, and all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.“ “All that live godly in Christ Jesus...” All that live godly. I’ve noticed the devil doesn’t attack backsliders very much. Why should he? They are not a threat! But if you live godly in Christ Jesus; if you are salt and light in this world for the Lord; if you are the very aroma of God among the lost, then the devil will make sure that you are persecuted. Paul continues: ”But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.“ Look at chapter 4, verse three, ”for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lust shall they heap up to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their years from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.“
As a poignant example, the Episcopal Church last year appointed a man who abandoned his wife and children for a homosexual lover, and they made him a Bishop! Fortunately, many of the godly in that church have said, ”No more!” and the Episcopal Church is hemorrhaging, losing 100 members a day, according to latest research.
Jesus warns us through Dr. Luke’s inspired text that in these days we will long for his second coming, but we will not see it. Not yet! “Do you despise,” writes Paul in Romans 2:4, ”the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?“ You long for Jesus’ return because of the suffering and wickedness in the land, but, not yet! There are still more to be saved. Matthew, in his Gospel, writes in chapter 24:14 ”and this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all the nations; and then shall the end come.“ What will the “end” look like? Are you ready? Are you prepared? Are you longing for his return?