…But so is the grave.
Jesus just is not here, visibly, these days. We cannot go up to Him and walk a mile or two with Him, these days. We cannot hear Him speaking with our physical ears, cannot touch the scars in His hands, cannot set our children on His lap.
But the day is coming.
When Jesus departed from this world, angels appeared to His friends to tell them:
This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven. Acts 1:11
And, although the Bible shows us in many places that He will come back in a cloud, just as He left, it is careful to point out one difference in His manner of reappearing. When He left, He was quietly teaching His faithful few. However, when He returns:
…the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God… 1 Thessalonians 4:16
Then, in the first chapter of 2 Thessalonians, we read that Jesus will be revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.
The adorable baby in the manger scene is history, only one part of the Good News. The rest of the Gospel will be more terrifying, more like what the Shepherds saw when the angels appeared to them and had to tell them not to be afraid, because it was SUCH a sight.
Will there be other differences?
The first time Jesus came, it was quietly and humbly, through the act of human birth, in a shelter meant for animals, and few recognized Him for who He was–one of Mary’s cousins, some shepherds, a handful of prophets from afar, a couple of elderly people at temple–then after His miracles, there were more, hundreds or maybe thousands, but not like when He returns.
The next time He comes, there will be no doubt, everyone on earth will see Him in all His grandeur, and recognize Him as the Lord.
The first time, He came in poverty, the son of a workingman, dressed simply.
- The next time, He will come in glory, the Son of the Living God, dressed in a robe dipped in blood.
The first time, Jesus came as an ordinary person with eyes of compassion, who had no crown except of thorns.
- When He comes again, He will be wearing many crowns and His eyes will blaze with fire.
The first time Jesus came to Jerusalem riding a lowly donkey and those who knew Him bowed before Him.
- Next time? A magnificent white horse will be His mount, and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess He is Lord.
And all will realize He is the Pierced One.
And they will mourn.
And there will be no doubt who He is, for He will display His title boldly, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”.
Yes, He is coming back.
However, how many of those who gaze upon the innocent little Babe out in the cold and say, “Awwww…,” will gape at the King returning in a blaze of fire and begin trembling?
The first time, He was a gentle servant. The next time He will be as a conquering general of a powerful army that no physical or spiritual means can defeat, or even begin to touch.
The first time, He came as a man of peace, to lay down His life to save others. The next time He is coming to use His sword against His enemies: those who deliberately refused to believe Him and aligned themselves with His demonic enemy.
The first time He came, He gave us all a second chance to become sons of the Living God. The next time, no one will have a single chance. Those who think God doesn’t care about sin anymore will be in for a rude awakening.
The first time He came, He cried out, “Father, forgive them…” The next time, the time for forgiveness will be over.
Boycotting, suing, fining, jailing, firing, and removing children from Christians, solely because of their faith, will come to an abrupt stop, even in this country.
And His mission will be different:
First time: He frustrated all who knew Him, because they knew about His power and thought He should just take over dictatorial Rome and establish a never-ending kingdom. But that was not in His mission statement, then.
Next time: Taking over is exactly the plan, according to all prophecy.
First time: His mission was to die, in order to defeat death and hell for us.
Next time: His mission will be as follows, “I am the Living One: I was dead and behold I am alive forever and ever!” and He will have the keys to death and hell IN HIS HAND.
First time: His mission was to walk this earth with His followers.
Next time: His mission is to ride the skies with His followers behind Him in a vast army.
Oh, and there is only one way to participate in His second mission: