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Jesus Will Return

Tom Pennington Mark 13:24-27


This morning we return to our summer series: Hold Fast; the forgotten truths which we must always remember.

And today we come to one of those truths that is at the bedrock of the Christian faith. The gospel of Jesus Christ ends with a grand finale called the second coming. The second coming is one of the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith. Twenty-three of the twenty-seven New Testament books refer to the second coming. The Apostles Creed, the Nicaean Creed, the Epinician Creed and all of the major confessions of the Christian church speak of the second coming.

The early church fathers, even at that early stage in the life of the church, understood and affirmed the reality of the second coming. For example the dedicatee which is the earliest Christian document outside of the New Testament dates to the first century, says this, “The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him, then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.

Justin Martyr, writing in the second century said, “Hereto how He was to ascend into heaven according to prophecy and how He should come again out of heaven with glory. Irenaeus, writing in the second century was even more specific, he said when the antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign three years and six months and sit in the temple in Jerusalem. And then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds in the glory of the Father sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire.

This has been what Christianity has always taught. And of course, Christianity still passively acknowledges the reality of the second coming. But frankly, if you examine the sermons of today’s contemporary church; if you look at the books that are published; if you listen to the prayers that are prayed, you will find that the church has largely forgotten in a day-to-day way the reality of the second coming. But beloved, you and I who want to cling to the foundations of the faith once for all delivered to the saints, we must hold fast to this practically forgotten truth; Jesus will return!

Now, when we talk about Jesus coming, there is first of all His first advent. That’s when He came in Bethlehem and became fully human as He continued to retain His deity. He became one of us. That’s the first advent.

The second advent points to the second return, and the second advent unfolds theologically in two related but distinct events. The first event in the second advent is the rapture. That’s what you and I are waiting for, when Christ comes for the saints and takes us back to heaven with Him just before the judgments are unleashed on this planet. And then comes the second part of the second advent. Now there’s the rapture, and then there’s the second coming, again related but again distinct.

So, what are the differences between the rapture and the second coming? Let me just briefly give you a comparison. In the rapture there is no hint of judgment. In the passages that describe the rapture there is no hint of judgment. There are no warning signs that precede it. On the other hand when you look at the second coming, there is an emphasis on judgment, and there are dramatic signs that precede it.

When you look at the passages on the rapture, you will find that the focus is on the rapture of living believers and includes the resurrection of dead believers. When you look at the second coming, that’s not true. When you look at the rapture you find in timing, it is before the tribulation. Christ comes in the air not all the way to the earth for His saints to take the saints to heaven.

When you look at the second coming passages, you find that it happens after the tribulation. Christ returns, not just in the air but all the way to the earth. He puts His feet on the mount of Olives. He comes with His saints already with Him in heaven. He comes back to earth to defeat His enemies and to establish His kingdom. Two related but distinct events. One before the tribulation, one after. We wait for the rapture. Those living during the period of the tribulation will await the second coming.

But today, I want us to examine the second aspect of the second advent. The Revelation of Jesus Christ in His second coming because that is the culmination of human history. Jesus explains it for us in Mark 13 in the text that we read together this morning. Now Mark 13 is commonly called the Olivet Discourse because of where Jesus preached it. He was sitting on the Mount of Olives looking back across the Kidron Valley at the temple mount. He had just come from there. And as He sat on the Mount of Olives looking back across the city of Jerusalem, His disciples asked Him several questions. And this sermon is in essence a response to those questions.

Now, when I taught though the gospel of Mark, I preached eight sermons on this chapter. So, we are not going to cover anything like that detail this morning. If you want more detail, you can go back and listen to those messages. But let me just give you an overview of the first two sections of this sermon just so you get the flow of the context.

First of all, in verses 5 – 13, you have what Jesus calls the beginning of birth pangs. These verses cover the time from Christ’s ascension in the first century all the way through the church age to the midpoint of the tribulation period, at the middle of that seven-year period, three-and-a-half years through the tribulation. So, understand then that the events described in verses 5 - 13 occur throughout the church age. And then they will occur during the first three-and-a-half years of the tribulation but with much greater intensity and frequency.

Think of it like this. These things are happening now, but they are like the Braxton Hicks contractions that a woman who is pregnant experiences. They are not the real birth pangs they are sort of false alarms. But you get to the three-and-a-half years that begins the tribulation period, and these things will be the beginning of birth pangs. They will come in much greater frequency and intensity. What are they?

Well, Jesus says there will be false Christs, prophets, predictions of His coming. There will be war, natural disasters. There will be intense persecution of God’s people, and the gospel will be preached around the globe. Again you can see how those things are happening now in sort of Braxton Hicks contractions. But they are coming one day in the beginning of the tribulation with real birth pangs.

Now the second section of Jesus’ sermon about the future, verses 14 - 23, and it’s the great tribulation, not just a seven-year period of tribulation but the great tribulation which covers from the midpoint of that seven years, the three-and-a-half years, through the final three-and-a-half years until the second coming. This is the great tribulation when things really intensify. Now, this is initiated according to Jesus by an event called the abomination of desolation.

We learn from both the Old Testament, from Daniel’s prophecy as well as from the apostle Paul in Thessalonians that what will happen is that the antichrist, a political figure, a dominating political figure will be raised at that time, will set up an image of himself in a rebuilt temple in the city of Jerusalem and demand worship of himself. That is the abomination of desolations. That marks the beginning of the second three-and-a-half years of the tribulation. That entire period of time will be marked by the persecution of Israel.

It is described by Jesus as a time of unparalleled tribulation. He says there’s nothing ever happened like this. It will be shortened for the sake of the elect, but it will be a time that will be filled with spiritual deception. That’s the second three-and-a-half years of the seven-year tribulation.

This morning, however, I don’t want to look at either of those sections of Jesus’ sermon. I want us to turn our attention briefly to the third section of the discourse which is the second coming. In verses 24 - 27 that we read just a few moments ago. I’m not going to reread it, but I do want you to notice in verse 24 how He begins with a little word, but. That marks a crucial transition. It’s a transition between all the false messiahs that Jesus has just predicted and the future appearance of the true Messiah. Jesus is essentially saying, listen, don’t be confused. The fact that there will be lots of false messiah sightings because this means that the real Messiah is coming. And so, He talks about the second coming.

Now, He begins by laying out for us the timing of the second coming. Now if you are biblically literate, you know that Jesus was very clear. No one knows the exact time of His return. In Matthew 24:36 He said that of that day and hour no one knows not even the angels in heaven. The angels still don’t know when the second coming is. And He says nor the Son. Likely, that’s a reference to the fact that while He was on the earth, Jesus voluntarily limited the exercise of His divine attributes including His omniscience. So, while He was here, He Himself didn’t know the timing of the second coming, but the Father alone knows the exact timing of the second coming.

But Jesus does give us a general timeframe. Look at verse 24, “But in those days after that tribulation….” In other words, in the general time period following the end of the tribulation that He has just described in verses 14 – 23. But Matthew tells us Jesus made it even clearer, because Matthew quotes Jesus as saying that day in Matthew 24:29, immediately after the tribulation of those days. So, the second coming then immediately follows the seven-year tribulation period. That’s the timing of the second coming.

Now, Jesus next identifies the signs surrounding the second coming. It’s interesting because again Matthew quotes something that Mark doesn’t. In Matthew 24:27 Jesus describes the second coming like this, “as the lightening comes from the east and flashes even to the west so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Just like at night you can’t miss a lightening strike, no one will miss this. It may even be a reference, the way He describes it, to horizontal lightening.

The other night my family and I went to dinner over in Dallas, and we were riding back as the storm was a distance. And we saw a horizontal lightening strike. I was reminded of the fact that I read at one point the longest horizontal lightening strike ever recorded in human history was here in Dallas. And they think it measured 180 miles in length. But the bottom line is, when lightning occurs in the middle of darkness, you see it. You don’t mis sit. And that’s Jesus’ point. It will be visible to everyone.

Now, how will God accomplish that? Well, He will do so through a series of cosmic signs. Again, Luke gives us some further insight into what Jesus said that day. Luke 21:25 and 26,

“There will signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among [the] nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectations of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”

Jesus says not a single person on this planet will miss these signs, and the terror of these signs will create an epidemic of heart attacks around the globe. These signs will come at the end of the tribulation and immediately precede the second coming. Now look at verses 24 – 26, and you will see that much of what Jesus says in these verses consists of quotations from the Old Testament. Whenever you see capital letters, all capitals in our New Testament, that’s the translators’ way of telling you these are quotations taken from the Old Testament.

So, as was His habit, Jesus is here basing His teaching on the Old Testament. He’s grounding our hope in the prophetic word. Jesus’ teaching is not in conflict with the Old Testament, but rather it is a perfect explanation of it. Now notice in verses 24 and 25 Jesus explains that immediately preceding His coming there will be clear signs, catastrophic cosmic disturbances.

The first of these disturbances is in verse 24 (Mark 13). THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED. But in those days after the tribulation, the sun will be darkened. Jesus may be quoting here from several different Old Testament texts because there several that contain this wording. Maybe from Isaiah 12, Isaiah 13, Isaiah 34, Ezekiel 32, Joel 2, Joel 3. You can see there are a number of places in the Old Testament where this wording occurs. Regardless, Jesus is speaking about a real event that will occur in the future.

Now, when He says the sun will be darkened, He may mean that the light of the star we know as the sun will itself be diminished or extinguished. That’s certainly possible. He’s God. He can do that if He chooses. Or He may mean that from the vantage point of earth it will appear as though the sun has been darkened. Regardless, either way it’s a miraculous event brought about by God Himself.

The reason I say it may appear as though the sun has been darkened is because there is a remarkable similarity between what Jesus describes here and the sixth seal recorded in Revelation. You remember in the book of Revelation is a story of what will happen in the future as God brings judgment on the world during the tribulation period. And that judgment is described as a series of judgments as Jesus takes the scroll in Revelation 5 which is the title deed to the earth. And it’s sealed with seven seals. And as He breaks each of those seals to open the title deed to the earth, more judgment rains down on the world.

In the sixth seal there comes a catastrophic earthquake. This is Revelation 6:12. “… when He broke the sixth seal, … there was a great earthquake, and the sun became as black sackcloth made of hair….” There will be a great earthquake, John tells us, surpassing all so far, and the sun will become black like sackcloth. Now, again God could simply diminish the intensity of the sun. But it may be that in response to the earthquake, and as the result of the earthquake, there are volcanic eruptions that follow that earthquake, and the ash and soot rise in the atmosphere and block man’s view of the sun, making it appear black as sackcloth.

That leads to a second cosmic disturbance. Not only is the sun going to be darkened, but the moon will be darkened as well. Again whether the sun itself is diminished in intensity or whether something obscures our view of it, obviously since the moon reflects the sun’s light, the moon too will be affected by this. Verse 24 (Mark 13), “… AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT.” Again, in Revelation 6:12, as a result of that great earthquake and the resulting volcanic eruptions and the ash and soot, the whole moon became like blood, darkened where you cannot see it in its full light and intensity.

Here, in Mark 13, Jesus adds a third cosmic disturbance, and that is that the stars will fall. Verse 25, “AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven.” Now understand, that in the Greek, the word translated “stars” is a generic word that refers to all bodies in what we would call space. It can refer to actual stars as we know them, like our sun. It can also refer to meteors or comets. The word is used that way. And so, you have to keep that in mind, in what you see and hear.

In Greek, the description is very graphic here. The intensity of the Greek verb pictures a duration of time as humanity watches star after star fall. When you take that Greek word “into light”, there are two possibilities of what our Lord means here as the stars may be falling. It may be that the actual stars, like our sun, will somehow leave their rotation and veer off into space, appearing to people here on this planet as falling. That is possible.

Another option though, and I think more likely is that it describes meteors will shower the earth. I say that’s more likely because it is more similar to what Revelation describes. Revelation seems to hint that there will be a relentless series of meteors that will impact the earth’s atmosphere and surface. In the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments described in Revelation there are some specific meteor impacts with the earth that are described. Let me give you some examples. For example, back in that sixth seal in Revelation 6:13 we learn that the stars fall. Again that word is a generic word, likely here referring to meteors.

So, there is a meteor storm that causes a massive worldwide chain of earthquakes. Those earthquakes will be followed by volcanic eruptions from which ash and soot will obscure the sun and the moon. And as a result, Revelation 6:14 says, the sky will split apart. Likely that’s a reference to earth’s atmosphere being radically damaged. And Revelation 6:14 says every island and mountain will be moved. In other words, as the result of the impact of those meteors and the earthquakes that result, the tectonic plates of this planet will shift radically and dramatically. That’s the sixth seal.

Later, as judgment unfolds in the second trumpet judgment, recorded in Revelation 8:8-9 another meteor ignites in the earth’s atmosphere and upon impact with the earth’s surface creates a huge tidal wave in earth’s oceans. It kills a third of the living creatures in the oceans, and it destroys a third of the world’s ships, swamping those at sea and inundating those in harbors around the world. And that same judgment describes that the world’s oceans will become blood. It could be literal blood, or it could refer to red tide, an event that’s caused by the death of millions of tiny organisms. You can google and see a picture of small red tide events on this planet. But this one will become massive because it will result from a meteor’s collision with our earth’s ocean.

In the third trumpet judgment recorded in Revelation 8:10 and 11, John speaks of a great star, possibly another meteor, or maybe a comet, enters the earth’s atmosphere, shatters into pieces, falls to earth and poisons a third of the earth’s water supply. Now, I think you understand that 97% of the earth’s water is saline. It’s in the oceans of the world. Only 3% of the water on the planet is fresh water. And it’s interesting because that fresh water supply is isolated in some major pockets. For example, 21% of that 3% fresh water on the planet is in our Great Lakes. But regardless, with this meteor, described in Revelation 8, 33% of the world’s fresh water will be poisoned. So Jesus says, listen, stars or probably better, meteors will be falling from heaven.

A fourth cosmic sign that Jesus describes here in Mark 13 is the powers of heaven will be shaken. Verse 25, “And the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken.” The Greek word for “shaken” occurs in Acts 16 in reference to the earthquake, you remember, there in Philippi that freed Paul and Silas from prison. So, Jesus says, it’s as if the heavens themselves will be shaken by a cosmic earthquake. It shouldn’t surprise us. Hebrews tells us that Jesus controls and upholds all things by the word of His power. All Jesus has to do is wish it to be so, or speak it to be so, and the gravitational fields that keep this universe in alignment will weaken and the stars and planets can careen from their courses.

But what exactly is this idea of the powers of heaven being shaken? Well again, Revelation gives us some insight. In the fourth trumpet judgment recorded in Revelation 8:12 we’re told that God will strike the heavens and that a third of the sun, moon and stars will not shine. Again, we can’t be absolutely certain, but that could mean that the day-night cycle as we know it will be altered. Or it could mean that God will supernaturally diminish the intensity of those bodies, obviously, radically affecting the earth’s climate.

In the fourth bowl judgment in Revelation 16:8 and 9 we’re told that the sun will scorch the earth. It will be true global warming. God will apparently either weaken the earth’s protective atmosphere, or He will dial up the intensity of the sun and the result will be that the earth is scorched. There will be intense heat; there will be fierce drought; there will be painful blisters; the polar ice caps will melt. Some scientists estimate in a cataclysm like this the earth’s sea surface could rise as much as a hundred feet, flooding and destroying most of the earth’s costal cities.

In Revelation 16:10 and 11 in the fifth bowl judgment we are told that added to the festering sores, the intense pain, the absence of fresh water, the blistering heat, of all of the previous judgments, God’s going to add something else. Another power of heaven will be shaken. There will be prevailing global darkness. Can you imagine what that will be like? I mean, think of something as simple as a toothache. During the day it’s just a distraction. But in the middle of the night darkness, it is all consuming. Can you imagine what those people in that day who are suffering through all that they are enduring what it will be like for there to be total global darkness. Revelation says it will be such an intense situation that the people of earth will gnaw their tongues from pain. The powers of heaven will be shaken Jesus says.

And then will come Jesus’ appearance in the second coming. After those signs, notice verse 26, then. Jesus means quickly following those cosmic disturbances. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. Again, now that you have the context, do you see what will happen? The whole earth will be covered in darkness. And into that prevailing, oppressive, global darkness will suddenly break the shining blazing brilliance of the Son of God. “They” here must apply to all who are alive on the planet at that time.

We know that because that’s what Revelation says. Revelation 1:7 “BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him [meaning the Jews]; and all the tribes of the earth [that’s everyone else] will mourn over Him….” So, John says Jesus’ appearance will be global, all the tribes of the earth. It also will be very personal, “every eye will see Him.”

It's interesting because Christians earlier than our generation used to speculate on how that could be. How could every eye on the planet see Christ? Some of the early church fathers speculated, Well, maybe God’s going to put a blazing cross in the sky. Well, with the advent of worldwide media coverage, we no longer have to wonder how it could be done. It will be done, regardless of how. Jesus says they will see. Notice verse 26, the Son of Man coming in clouds. That simple statement points to the grand finale of human history.

Listen, Christian, let me ask you a question. Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe that He came as a man into the world while maintaining His deity? Do you believe that He lived a perfect life; that He died a substitutionary death on your behalf; that He was raised was raised from the dead; that He ascended into heaven? Do you believe that He is trustworthy? Then why would you not believe with all of your heart when He says, then they shall see the Son of Man coming? He’s coming back.

Throughout His ministry Jesus used the title, Son of Man, to describe Himself. It’s an interesting title when you think about it, Son of Man. Because by itself it could simply refer to Jesus as being a human being, and often people around Him took it that way. Some today still try to argue that’s what He meant. But it can’t be so. But it can’t be so because of how He uses it. Notice here in verse 26, the words are in all capitals, THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS…. Why? Because it’s taken from an Old Testament passage. And that Old Testament passage talks about a person who cannot merely be human. We’ll see it in just a moment. In addition, if you turn over to chapter 14 of Mark, and you look at verses 61 and 62. At Jesus’ trial the high priest says to Him.

In fact, turn over there, 14:61, Jesus didn’t say anything at His trial.

Again, the high priest was questioning Him. [Caiaphas said,] … “Are you the … [Christos, are you the Messiah, are you the Son of God, are you] the Son of the Blessed One? And Jesus said, “I am….” [It couldn’t be any clearer than that, but then He adds,] and you shall see, [now notice again this is a quotation from Daniel 7] THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.” Tearing his clothes, the high priest, said, “What further need do we have of witnesses?” You have heard the blasphemy….

What was he saying? Jesus, in taking those Old Testament passages to Himself including Daniel 7, was claiming to be God. They understood that. And that’s exactly what He was claiming. Go back to Daniel 7, Daniel 7:9. We are introduced to God Himself. He’s on His throne, the throne was set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; and He’s described, verse 13, Daniel keeps looking at the night vision.

“… And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming,” [here is a person who is somehow related to humanity,] … up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him.” [You say well God gave Nebuchadnezzar a lot of power. God gave other earthly rulers power. Yea, but not like this. Look at how it continues.] His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed. [This is no earthly king; this is no mere human.]

And that’s what even the Jewish leaders of the first century understood. That’s why when Jesus took this passage to Himself, they said that He blasphemed, claiming to the God. And that’s exactly what He was taking on Himself. He will come back in indescribable majesty and glory, the very glory of God Himself. In fact, the clouds here in context are probably not describing normal clouds. They are probably describing the blazing brilliance of the glory cloud that surrounded the presence of God, accompanying His presence. He’s coming back, and He’s coming back in power and glory. Go back to Revelation 19. Revelation 19:11 describes the second coming with these words.

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, [the eyes of Jesus are like a piercing laser that see through everything, that see the reality of everything, nothing escapes His vision] and on His head are many [crowns] …; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, [Now that’s very interesting because He hasn’t yet come to Armageddon and His robe is already covered with blood; that means He is a veteran of many battles; He is a tried-and-true warrior] and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. [That’s us, and] From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, [You know what that’s saying, that’s saying Jesus doesn’t need any weapons except His word, by His word He spoke all things into being. When He fights this final battle, He will destroy His enemies with the word.] and He will rule them with a rod of iron; [He will crush all rebellion. And then this if frightening, verse 15 this is not the feminine Jesus that’s normally portrayed] … He [will tread in that day] … the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. [In other words, God will crush all rebels beneath Him just like people crushing the juice from grapes] And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Go back to Mark 13. “Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory.” The first time Jesus came He was practically unnoticed by the world, He came in humiliation, but when He returns it will be in blazing glory.

Matthew 16:27 “… the Son … is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels….” There will be a visible display of His greatness. Into the darkness of that moment will come the shekinah glory of Jesus Christ. How will the people of earth respond to the second coming of Christ? Jesus describes it this way in Matthew 24:30, “… all the tribes of the earth will mourn.” Everybody on earth will weep; weep over their rebellion; weep over the coming judgment.

Revelation 1:7 describes it the same way, … “all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.” Jesus is coming back. He will appear a second time Hebrews says. Do you believe that? Do you believe that the person you claim to worship will return? That’s what He said. And He can be believed.

So, let’s look at one other aspect of the second coming. We’ve seen the timing of His coming, the signs of His coming; we’ve seen Jesus’ appearance. Let’s look at Jesus’ priority in the second coming. Verse 27, you know there are many reasons for the second coming, let me just say that. I don’t have time to give you even a few of them. But let me give you one example. One of the main purposes of the second coming is to execute God’s vengeance on the wicked. Second Thessalonians 1:7-8,

… the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, [here it is] dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus [Christ].

Listen, when Jesus comes back, there’s going to be no mercy. There’s only going to be judgment. And that’s one of the main reasons for His coming. He will crush man’s rebellion. But Jesus’ focus in the second coming is not primarily the wicked but the elect. Look at verse 27, and then He will send forth the angels and will gather together His elect. “Then”, that is at the second coming, Jesus will send forth the angels, that is those powerful beings created to serve God and the saints, and at His command the angels will gather His elect together.

And who are these people? Remember, the church, if we survive until the rapture, we will already have been gone. At the beginning of the tribulation we will be taken out. So, who are these people? Well, they are those who came to faith in Christ during the tribulation and who survive to the end. They weren’t martyred, but they actually survive to the end to the second coming. And Jesus sends His angels to gather them. By the way, some of them will be the Jews who, in seeing Christ at His return; look on Him whom they pierced; mourn for Him as an only son as Zechariah says. And a fountain of cleansing will be open for them, and so, many of them as Romans 11 says, will be saved.

So, the elect, verse 27 goes on to say, He will gather them from the four winds, from the four points of the compass and from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven. That’s a strange expression, but it probably points to the horizon where heaven and earth meet. Jesus’ point is that the elect at that point will be scattered everywhere all over this globe. By the way this speaks to the universal authority of Jesus Christ. He’s not a local deity over Israel. He is a God over all.

It also speaks of the grace of God. But even during a period like the tribulation when God is pouring out His wrath on this earth, He will save millions of people. Many of them will be martyred for their faith. You can read about them in Revelation 7. But others will survive until the second coming, and here’s the amazing thing. Christ will come for them. Jesus is coming back, and as always, His concern is primarily for His own. Jesus will return.

Now, how do we respond to this amazing reality? Well, first of all let me say, if you are not a Christian, the second coming is primarily to remind you of the future judgment that’s coming. And that ought to drive you to repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ now before He comes, when it will be too late. There will be no mercy, no grace. There will only be judgment when He returns. Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.”

Listen, you cannot live your life in rebellion against Jesus Christ and think that He doesn’t see and that He will not bring justice into your life. He says, I will repay to every man according to His deeds. The truth of the second coming should drive you to the realization that you will face Him. If you are alive when He returns at the second coming, you will face judgment, but even if you die before then, Hebrews 9:27 says, “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” Survive till then, you meet Christ as judge. Die before then, you meet Christ as judge.

Are you ready? Have you humbled yourself before God, your Creator. Have you taken your sins to Him in repentance and cried out for His forgiveness and asked Him to save you for the sake of what Christ did on the cross to purchase forgiveness for all who would believe, or are you still living in rebellion? Listen, some day Christ will come, and He will repay every person for their deeds.

For those of us who are in Christ, there are so many ramifications of the return of Christ, both the rapture and the second coming that I can’t cover them all. Let me just give you a couple that came to mind that I think stand out above the others.

First of all, it should encourage personal holiness. First John 3 says, “… that when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” And then John says this, “And everyone who has this hope” in himself, the hope of Christ’s return, the hope of being like Him, of seeing Him. “… everyone who has this hope [in himself] …“purifies himself, [even] … as He is pure.” If you really believe Jesus is coming back, it affects the decisions you make in how you think, in how you speak, in how you live.

Number 2, it should remind you of Jesus’ love. As we saw in verse 27, He’s coming for His elect. For those at the end of the tribulation period who survive, for us in the rapture, when He comes, He always comes for His own. We are the special objects of Jesus’ affection. We are His bride. A couple of weeks ago I did a wedding, and we’ve all seen the groom doting over His bride. Jesus wants us to understand that’s how He thinks of us who have believed in Him. Whatever is happening in your life right now; whatever troubles; whatever hardships; whatever difficulties. Or look around you at the disasters and the darkness in the world in which we live. Understand, Jesus’ love for you is unchanged, and undiminished, and He will come for you. He’s promised. He will come for us in the rapture. And He will come for the tribulation saints at the second coming.

Thirdly, the return of Christ should motivate you to faithfulness. Do you understand what this means? We live in dark desperate times. But do you understand that one day Jesus Christ our Lord will return to this planet and set everything right. Everything will be just like it’s supposed to be. Until then we are to be faithful. And Jesus that teaches us to be faithful we anticipate His coming tells the parable at the end of the sermon. Look over in verses 33 – 37. He teaches us how to live in the light of the second coming. This parable is really spoken to those who lived during the tribulation period and have come to trust in Christ and are awaiting the second coming. But it applies just as much as us who are awake or after.

First of all, keep watching. Notice verse 33, “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.” Verse 35, “… be on the alert …you don’t know when … [He’s coming.]” Verse 37, “What I have to say to you I say to all, ‘be on the alert!’” Folks, keep watching. And Jesus illustrates what it means to be alert by using a parable of a slave assigned to keep the door of this massive manor to watch for his lord’s return so that the lord can get in.

For us, as we anticipate the rapture, Titus 2 describes it this way. We are to live looking. Think about that, live looking, looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Is that how you live? Do you live looking? Keep watching, Jesus says.

And secondly, keep working. We are to faithfully serve our master while He is away. Verse 34, it’s like a man on a journey. Jesus is, it’s like He’s on a journey, and when He left, He put His slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task. Listen, you are to carry out the specific task Jesus has assigned to you while He is gone. In the context of last week’s message, that means specifically the gift He has given you in the church. It also means for all of us to share the gospel because that’s the last assignment that He gave all of us in the great commission, make disciples of all the nations.

By the way, that becomes especially important in light of how this sermon finishes. Matthew records the last words Jesus said in this sermon, Matthew 25:46, “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Listen, make disciples for Jesus Christ because everyone on this planet will either enjoy eternal life or endure eternal punishment. Those are the only two options. So, in light of our Lord’s return, live in a constant state of readiness. Keep watching and continue to carry out the duty He’s assigned to you both in the church and in sharing the gospel. Keep working. Folks, this world has not seen the last of Jesus Christ. He will return. Hold fast to the truth that Jesus will return.

Let’s pray together.

Our Father, thank you that through our Lord You reveal to us what’s coming in the future. We’re amazed at your goodness to let us know, to unfold it for us. Lord, I pray You help us to live in light of this, help us first of all to believe it, help us to embrace the reality of the second coming as much as we embrace the reality of His first coming, of His death, of His resurrection, of the gospel. And Father, help us to live in light of it. Lord, I pray that you would make us holy as we anticipate His coming. Help us to appreciate and thank Him for His love, that He’s coming for His elect. Father, help us to be faithful.

Father, I pray for those here this morning who don’t know Christ. Lord, may this truth that we’ve studied this morning, sober them. May it keep them awake at night; may it trouble their conscience. May they live in fear of death and fear of judgment until they humble themselves before You and find shelter from Your justice in Your grace in Jesus Christ.

We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.