The Second Coming of Jesus ~ 20091227 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
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:
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:
Jesus himself promised his disciples:
But the second coming of Jesus will be much different than his first coming. Jesus prayed to his Father:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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)
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,
The next line in Isaiah 61, that Jesus did not read, says this:
That scripture will be fulfilled in Jesus at his second coming. Paul describes this righteous judgment of God in 2 Thessalonians:
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:
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:
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
Jesus tells us:
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:
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.