The return of Jesus

Jenny ThompsonPosted on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 by Jenny Thompson

Readings

1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:6 & Mark 13:21-27

Introduction

I work with a Christian who remembers certain members of her family who lived their lives very much with the expectation of the coming of Jesus at any time. This meant that they did not really bother too much with anything like Life Assurance! I tend to think that the pendulum has very much swung into the opposite direction so that today we hardly ever hear or talk about it. In fact many of us as Christians tend to be so earth bound in this life as we now know it that we are terrified of the thought of leaving this life. I have heard it said that non-Christians can look at us and say something like ‘you keep on talking about eternal life with God, but you seem so frightened about actually going there.’ Remember the Apostle Paul, he was torn between staying to teach and encourage the believers and going to be with the Lord! It is an old cliché but so true, the best really is yet to come!

God has given us then this glorious and certain hope that He is coming back for us. This hope is not some kind of vain hopeful thinking, no this hope is seated deeply in Jesus Christ who gave His life for us, and in His Word, which will endure forever! So when referring to life after death the Christian faith teaches the truth of the resurrection! So as Jesus rose from the dead to die no more, so will we! Therefore how can we fear death! Probably if we are honest it is the manner of dying that causes us to fear more!

1. The believers were worried about those who had died in Christ.

The Christians at Thessalonica knew that Jesus would come again one day. When He comes, all His people on the earth will go to be with Him in heaven. However the Christians at Thessalonica were worried about those who had died before Jesus would come back. They thought that they would not enjoy the same benefit on that day of His return as those who are alive. So the Apostle Paul wanted to make sure that they knew the truth on this subject. Those who have died will have the same benefit from the return of Jesus as those who are still alive then. Now the word that the writers used for ‘died’ is in the Greek language ‘sleeping’. The death of those who believe in Jesus is like sleep. (THIS SLEEP IS NOT LIKE OUR NORMAL SNORING KIND OF SLEEP). They are actually alive with the Lord Jesus in a different world. They have gone from their bodies and they have gone to be with Him. Death for them is a sleep from which they will awake to new life. They will awake when Jesus comes. Then they will live in a different kind of body. So those who have died believing in Jesus have gone to be with Him. They are in a better place than those of us who are still here!

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:14 ‘God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.’ Yes It is this very same power that is working within us so that we came to know Him in the first place, then enables us to walk with Him on a daily basis and will then one day raise us up to be with Him. How wonderful!

It is clear from Paul’s letters that he did not know when Jesus would return. Perhaps he hoped that it would be before he died. No one knows when it will be, but Jesus could come at any time. Therefore Paul taught the believers to live as if Jesus would come soon and to be ready for Him. THIS IS HOW WE ARE TO LIVE. The Lord will come Himself. He will not send an angel to represent Him, or someone else. He will come down from heaven where he has been since he went to be with the Father. All the people of the world will see Him as He returns to the earth. HOW WILL THAT WORK OUT, WE DON’T KNOW! He will come with a shout of command. As He leaves heaven, He will call for the dead to rise. Those who have died believing in Jesus will come from heaven with Him. God will raise them from the dead. There will be the sound of an archangel’s voice. This also is a signal for the dead to rise. With the Lord’s command and the voice of the archangel there will be the sound of a trumpet. God will give believers new bodies so that they can live with Him and never die. THIS WILL ALL HAPPEN IN LESS TIME THAN IT TAKES AN EYE TO SHUT AND OPEN according to I Corinthians 15:52. (So the next time you give someone the eye, just remember that!) So this truth about the coming of Jesus comforted the Christians at Thessalonica about those who have died in the faith. They would not lose out on the benefits of the second coming of the Lord. They were also encouraged to know that their future is safe with the Lord, and so is ours.

2. The believers needed to be ready for the coming of Jesus.

When the bible talks about the day of His return it is not a single day, as we understand it. Rather it is the day of the Lord, which covers many events. It will be a time when God will defeat all His enemies (Isaiah 2:12). In His anger, He will destroy them (Isaiah 13:9). This will bring trouble on the earth (a href=”https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+13%3A11&version=NIV”>Isaiah 13:11) and (Amos 5:18). It is a way of talking about the time when the Lord will deliver the nation of Israel (Jeremiah 30:7-9). It also is a way to speak about the time when God will set up His kingdom on the earth.

The day of the Lord and His return will come without warning. It will be like the thief who comes at night to rob a house. The thief does not tell the owners when he is coming, so of course they do not expect him to come. This is what Jesus taught in Matthew 24:42-44. the point of this is so that the Thessalonians should be ready for the Lord to come at any time. The beginning of the day of the Lord will come as a surprise. Those who do not believe in Jesus will not be ready for that day. They will think that they are safe. It will be a time when at last there seems to be peace on the earth. But, at that moment, when they feel safe and at peace, ruin will come to them from the Lord. There will be no warning and they will not be expecting it. They will not be able to avoid the anger of God. There will be no escape for them.

The bible describes those who do not believe in Jesus like people living in the dark. In contrast to those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus, Paul describes all the Christians at Thessalonica as children of the light. So children of the light are those who have God’s life. Some of us may feel weak and have our moments of doubt! Paul encourages the believers and this includes us that we are all children of the light and of the day.
So because we are children of the day, we should not be spiritually asleep.
I ask the question, are we as a wider church together spiritually asleep? Yes we are!
May God by His grace wake us all up and help us to live with the expectation of His return and the importance of being ready. Ephesians 5:14 “Awake, O sleeper and rise from the dead”

In our reading from Mark 13:21-27 verses 21-22 Jesus warns the disciples about false prophets who could even perform signs and miracles. This sounds really scary! ‘False Christ’s perhaps means those who oppose Christ. False Christ’s can also mean those who claim to be Christians. But they teach wrong things to disciples. Jesus had already warned his disciples about this in Mark 13:5. Presumably He repeated this because He needed them to understand how vigilant they were to be! However, they would now have greater strength to oppose false ideas because Jesus had prepared them. The Old Testament prophets often spoke about signs in the sky that would come before God’s judgement day. There will be darkness because there will be no light from the sun, moon or stars (Isaiah 13:10; 34:4). What does this mean? Presumably something like an earthquake will disturb them from their natural places.

So we ask ourselves the question does the church generally today really live as though the arrival of Jesus is going to happen and at any moment? Some believers have become caught up in trying to determine the day and the hour, while others have let their love grow cold. We need to be watchful, on our guard, alert, observant, and do the tasks that we have been appointed to do in preparation for His coming. We are to continue to declare the Good News of Jesus Christ and to make disciples.

Matthew 25:13 “…and Jesus concluded, “Watch out, then, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

One day He will come in the sky, everyone will see Him, the dead will be brought to life, the living will be given immortality, and all will be taken together to heaven. In one sense, it sounds so crazy, unbelievable and so outrageous! It seems so against all that common sense, experience, and even science would teach us. Yet, this is what we believe! How truly amazing and glorious! If we can trust the Lord in something as wonderful and amazing as this, how can we not trust Him with whatever “smaller” things we may be struggling with in our lives today?
May the Lord encourage us all Amen.

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