“Jesus is Coming”
So proclaimed the neon green poster board that someone had placed in the median of busy Capital Boulevard right by my house. With the crude hand-lettering (or maybe in spite of it), it was hard to ignore it.
Over the coming months, I would see other similar signs. One was neon orange and a little further down the road. The most recent sign I saw was on a corner near the Super Wal-Mart. This one made me stop and think even more because I was teaching 1 John in a Bible study, and we had just looked at 1 John 3:2: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” When preparing the lesson, I had spent time looking at verses on the Second Coming, and they were now quickly coming to mind as I passed the sign.
I also happened to be teaching a Bible study on Colossians, and the next week our study included Colossians 3:4: “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
A week later, I was preparing to teach Hebrews 9 and read verses 27-28: “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
It seems like these days, we don’t really talk much about the Second Coming of Christ. Instead it ends up being associated more with people on the fringe who publish books like 88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 1988. But seeing these verses in three different books reminded me that the leaders of the early church talked about it A LOT. Of course, they all thought that it was imminent. I think that if you had told them it was more than 2,000 years away, they would have been shocked. But often their references to the return of Christ were purposeful – they had a specific reason for reminding their audience that Jesus is coming.
Several times, it was to encourage holy behavior (1 John 3:2-3; Colossians 3:4-5; 2 Peter 3:10-15). Peter mentioned it three times in his first letter to encourage the believers who are going through severe trials and persecution (1 Peter 1:7, 13; 4:13). Paul goes into detail about Christ’s return with the Thessalonians and tells them to comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:16-5:3). At the end of his long explanation on Christ’s return that he writes to the Corinthians, Paul says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord,” (1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 51-58).
After meditating on these verses, I decided that maybe the mystery-neon-poster-board writer is on to something. I have no idea about the effectiveness of their method (the fact that I found the picture of it on a website called “I like 2 complain” means it definitely got some attention!). But the fact is that their message was one that the apostles found to be really critical. And it is a message meant to encourage us to persevere, to be hopeful and encouraged, and to pursue holiness.
Paul and the author of Hebrews (who may be one and the same – we don’t know) didn’t leave the message at “Jesus is Coming”, but they also mentioned awaiting Him “eagerly” (Hebrews 9:28; Philippians 3:20; 1 Corinthians 1:7). I like that word. And I’m convicted by that word.
Jesus is Coming. How much do I think about that truth, and how much do I let it encourage me and push me towards holiness? May I be found eagerly waiting for Him.