Summary: This is the first in a series adapted from Max Lucado’s book, When Christ Comes. It is expository and alliterated.
When Christ Comes: The Hope of His Return!
Scott Bayles, pastor
adapted from Max Lucado’s, When Christ Comes
First Christian Church, Rosiclare, IL
Imagine you are in your car driving home. Thoughts wander to the game you want to see or meal you want to eat, when suddenly a sound unlike any you’ve ever heard fills the air. The sound is high above you. A trumpet? A choir? A choir of trumpets? You don’t know, but you want to know. So you pull over, get out of your car, and look up. As you do, you see you aren’t the only curious one. The roadside has become a parking lot. Car doors are open, and people are staring at the sky. Shoppers are racing out of the grocery store. The Little League baseball game across the street has come to a halt. Players and parents are searching the clouds.
And what they see, and what you see, has never before been seen.
As if the sky were a curtain, the drapes of the atmosphere part. A brilliant light spills onto the earth. There are no shadows. None. From where the light came begins to tumble a river of color—spiking crystals of every hue ever seen and a million more never seen. Riding on the flow is an endless fleet of angels. They pass through the curtains one myriad at a time, until they occupy every square inch of the sky. North. South. East. West. Thousands of silvery wings rise and fall in unison, and over the sound of the trumpets, you can hear the cherubim and seraphim chanting, “Holy, holy, holy.”
The final flank of angels is followed by twenty-four silver-bearded elders and a multitude of souls who join the angels in worship. Suddenly the movement stops and the trumpets are silent, leaving only the triumphant triplet: “Holy, holy, holy.” Between each word is a pause. With each word a profound reverence. You hear your own voice joining in the chorus. You don’t know why you say the words, but you know you must.
Suddenly, the heavens are quiet. All is quiet. The angels turn, you turn, the entire world turns—and there he is. Jesus. Through waves of light you see the silhouetted figure of Christ the King. He is atop a great stallion, and the stallion is atop a billowing cloud. He opens his mouth, and you are surrounded by his declaration: “I am the Alpha and the Omega.”
The angels bow their heads. The elders remove their crowns. And before you is a figure so consuming that you know, instantly you know: Nothing else matters. Forget stock markets and school reports. Sales meetings and football games. Nothing is newsworthy. All that mattered, matters no more, for Christ has come. . . .
How do those words make you feel? Wouldn’t it be interesting to sit in a circle and listen to people’s reactions? If a cluster of us summarized our emotions regarding the return of Christ in one word—what words would we hear? What word would you use?
Discomfort? Probably a popular choice. You’ve been told your mistakes will be revealed. You’ve been told your secrets will be made known. Books will be opened, and names will be read. You know God is holy. You know you are not. How could the thought of his return bring anything but discomfort?
Besides, there are all those phrases—“the mark of the beast,” “the Antichrist,” and “the battle of Armageddon.” And what about “the wars and rumors of wars”? And what was that the guy said on TV? “Avoid all phone numbers with the digits 666.” And that magazine article disclosing the new senator as the Antichrist? Discomforting, to say the least.
Or perhaps discomfort is not your word of choice. Denial might be more accurate. (Or maybe it’s by denial that you deal with the discomfort?) Ambiguity is not a pleasant roommate. We prefer answers and explanations, and the end of time seems short on both. Consequently, you opt not to think about it. Why consider what you can’t explain? If he comes, fine. If not, fine. But I’m going to bed. I have to work tomorrow.
Or how about this word—disappointment? This one may surprise you, unless you’ve felt it; then you’ll relate. Who would feel disappointment at the thought of Christ’s coming? A mother-to-be might—she wants to hold her baby. An engaged couple might—they want to be married. A soldier stationed overseas might—he wants to go home before he goes home.
These form just a sampling of the many emotions stirred by the thought of Christ’s return. Others might be obsessed. (These are the folks with the charts and codes and you-better-believe-it prophecies.) Panic. (“Sell everything and head to the hills!”)
I wonder what God would want us to feel. It’s not hard to find the answer. Jesus said it plainly in John 14. Just prior to his crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples that he would be leaving them. “Where I am going you cannot follow now, but you will follow later” (John 13:36 NIV).