The Scriptures have much to say – though not always as clearly as we might wish – about the return of Christ. Christians will continue to debate the timing and circumstances of his Second Coming, probably up to the day he does return. But the Bible’s testimony is unambiguous about this: Jesus is coming again.
I preached on Luke 17:20-37 this past Sunday, a passage in which the Lord taught his disciples about his return to our world. His coming will be visible to all (like lightning that “flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other,” v. 24) and will take a world caught up in the affairs of life by complete surprise.
The lesson Jesus had for his disciples, and for us, is this: “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it” (v. 33). In other words, don’t so love the world, and your life in the world, that you aren’t prepared for his coming again. By faith seek and find your life in Christ, so his coming will be a day of salvation and not of condemnation.
As I thought about this lesson – be prepared for the return of Jesus – it occurred to me that it means more than a readiness for his actual Second Coming. If I’m ready for Christ to come as my Judge, knowing that the outcome of that judgment is eternal life since my guilt has already been dealt with on the cross, then I’m ready to die. What is death but going to Christ before he comes to us? Only he lives well, who can die well.
And if I am prepared to die, then I am ready to suffer affliction in this life. The suffering will still be painful, but I know it comes from the sovereign hand of a loving Father, not a wrathful God.
And if I am prepared to suffer, I am surely prepared for all the uncertainties and vagaries of this life. My hope of salvation at the day of Jesus’ return means I can face all things until then with confidence that nothing can separate me from God’s love in Christ (Romans 8:39).
The Greek word for judgment is the word from which we get “crisis”. If I am ready for the Great Crisis when Jesus comes again, then I am ready for every smaller crisis God in his providence brings me through until that day.
Soli Deo Gloria!