The Second Coming of Jesus ~ 20091227 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

12/27/09 – the second coming of Jesus

We've spent some time this season looking at Jesus; at who Jesus is. We saw that Jesus claimed to be the eternal all glorious pre-existent self existent one, sent from the Father, equal to and one with his Father and worthy of the same honor as the Father, in and of himself truly and fully God.

We saw that the response of the wise men to Jesus was the appropriate response – they came to worship him. They brought gifts and expended time and energy and made the sacrifices of a long journey and yet counted it all joy to have the privilege of welcoming this king born in Bethlehem.

We've seen in the good news of Christmas that God humbled himself and became a man, truly and fully man. In addition to being God, Jesus took on the nature of genuine humanity. God himself, the eternal self-existent uncreated creator of all things, the second person of the Trinity, entered history and became flesh. He was born into this world as a man in order to be our substitute and rescue us from sin and death and hell. He came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for rebellious sinners like you and me.

Another name for the time leading up to Christmas is Advent – from a Latin word that means arrival. We celebrate the arrival of Jesus. And his coming was inconspicuous and non-threatening. Philippians 2:7-8 tells us that he emptied himself and he humbled himself. In his coming he fully identified himself with us (Heb.4:15)

Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He made God known to us in a form that was comprehensible. Unpretentious. Touchable. Holdable. Real. Even adorable or cute in his apparent helplessness.

It was dangerous for God to reveal himself to us this way. There is a danger for us in seeing Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem. Many would feel uncomfortable visiting someone in a palace, but no-one feels intimidated to enter a barn. Some may refuse to enter a barn because they are offended at the smell or they don't want to soil their shoes, but no-one feels that they are not good enough to enter a barn. There are people we dare not violate their personal space, and it can be awkward to look someone in the eye, but there is something about an infant that invites intimacy and touching. Perfect strangers make fools of themselves making faces and sounds that otherwise they would be embarrassed to make. “What's his name? How old is he? Can I hold him?” Babies seem to break down social barriers. We don't have to climb up to reach them, we have to stoop down to their level. It seems there is much more interest in celebrating Christmas than there is in celebrating Good Friday, even though Christmas was an essential first step toward the cross. There is something dangerously comfortable about thinking of Jesus as a babe in the hay. We might want to keep him there, where he is safe, harmless, non-threatening, un-intimidating, approachable, ordinary. I say dangerous because familiarity sometimes breeds contempt. Think of those from Jesus' hometown. They were excited when their hometown boy made headline news. But when he returned home and taught in the synagogue he grew up in, the townsfolk who knew him took offense at him (Matt.13:53-58). “I remember when you were only this big. I used to babysit you. I changed your diapers. Who do you think you are?”

The commonness of Jesus, the humble circumstances of his birth, the approachability of a baby, the ordinariness of it all may cause us to miss or disbelieve who he is. Remember what the angel said to Mary:

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy––the Son of God.

Jesus was a real child born in the ordinary way, but Jesus is absolutely holy, totally set apart, unique and different. When Isaiah was in the presence of the one who was proclaimed by the seraphim to be 'Holy, holy, holy', he was undone and declared 'woe to me' (Is.6:3-5). We must see Jesus as the man who could legitimately stand in our place and bear the wrath of a holy God against the sins of mankind, but we must not allow our understanding of who he is to be limited to the manger.

Advent means arrival or coming. We have been looking at the advent of Messiah. But in scripture, there is a second advent, a second arrival, a second coming of the Messiah, Jesus. When Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after his resurrection the angels said:

Acts 1:11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Jesus himself promised his disciples:

John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

But the second coming of Jesus will be much different than his first coming. Jesus prayed to his Father:

John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

In the first coming, Jesus emptied himself of his glory. He humbled himself and took on the form of a servant. But Jesus described his coming again as a coming in power and great glory:

Matthew 24:30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (cf. Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27)

John, one of the inner circle of three disciples who witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus, one of the three who were brought with him to the garden to pray, one who was there at the trial and crucifixion, who leaned against Jesus at the last supper, who described himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, this John, when he was given a glimpse of Jesus in his glory had this response:

Revelation 1:17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.

We've seen who Jesus claimed to be – that he claimed to be the omnipotent eternal uncreated creator of all things, the one who is self-existent and by whom all things exist. We've seen that Jesus is God manifested in the flesh and that he claimed to be equal to and one with the Father and worthy of the same honor as the Father. When we stand at the manger our response should not be 'awwww'. Our response to Jesus should be worship, awe, the fear of the Lord. The wise men from the east got on their faces in the presence of the toddler Jesus. What was it that caused John to have this response? John saw the glory of Jesus. Let's look at what he saw, and let's be moved with him to awe:

Revelation 1:12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two–edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

Jesus was moving among his lampstands the churches. He wore a long robe – a priestly robe, because as Hebrews teaches, he is our great high priest. He wore a golden sash around his chest because he is our king, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the King of king and Lord of lords, to whom every knee shall bow. His hair, a symbol of his wisdom, was white like wool, reminding us of Daniel's vision of the Ancient of Days (Dan.7:9). His eyes are too pure to look on evil with favor, and penetrate to the hidden places of our hearts, and his feet remind us of the refiner's fire and the righteous judgment of God who will one day crush all who oppose him. His voice will thunder and put a stop to all competing voices. He holds complete authority over all creation and over his churches in the palm of his hand. Jesus is the living Word of God and Jesus said:

John 12:48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.

Jesus is the light of the world. The glory of Jesus was greater in intensity than the sun shining in full strength.

Later in Revelation, John again gets a glimpse of Jesus in the glory that he had with his Father before the world existed (Jn.17:5)

Revelation 19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

This is a description of Jesus coming in power and great glory. This same Jesus who came in humility will come again in a display of strength and justice. When he attended the synagogue in Nazareth,

Luke 4:17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The next line in Isaiah 61, that Jesus did not read, says this:

...and the day of vengeance of our God; (Isaiah 61:2)

That scripture will be fulfilled in Jesus at his second coming. Paul describes this righteous judgment of God in 2 Thessalonians:

2Thessalonians 1:5 … the righteous judgment of God ...7 ... when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

This same Jesus, who came in weakness and helplessness as a baby, will come again in flaming fire inflicting vengeance on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. Later in the book, Paul describes Jesus dealing with Antichrist in this way:

2Thessalonians 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.

This is Jesus. Friend of sinners who run to him for salvation, extending forgiveness to all who come, merciful and compassionate, but to those who reject him, he destroys his enemies by the breath of his mouth. This is the picture we have in Revelation 6 of the Christ rejecting world:

Revelation 6:15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains,16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

When Jesus spoke of his coming in power and glory, he told us to 'stay awake' (Mt.24:42) and to 'be ready' (Mt.24:44) and to 'watch' (Mt.25:13). He says

Luke 21:34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.

Jesus tells us:

Luke 21:28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

For those who are prepared for and looking for his return, it is an occasion of great joy. John gives us some helpful instruction on how to prepare our hearts to receive the king:

1John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

In John 15, Jesus used the metaphor of a branch abiding in the vine and bearing much fruit. Run to Jesus to find forgiveness at the cross and abundant life. Stay continually plugged in to him, daily drawing strength from him, enjoying intimacy of fellowship with him. Know him, so that when he comes in power and glory we rejoice at the coming of our victorious king rather than shrinking from the wrath of our just judge.