The return of Jesus
The Bible tells us that Jesus will bring peace to this world when he returns to establish God’s kingdom on Earth. (John 14:27-28)
God created both this incredible world (Romans 1:20) and us for a purpose (Psalm 139:13-16). His promised plan at the outset was to save mankind from sin and death. (Genesis 3:15, Hebrews 2:14-15)
Jesus is the son of God (Matthew 3:17). His life is at the very heart of this good news to us. What he did 2,000 years ago is brought home by the most astounding and significant words which we will ever hear: “He is risen!” (Mark 16:6)
Jesus died a cruel death on the cross because his message of hope for salvation was given to a world that did not want to listen. God raised him to life again because he was sinless. The impact of his resurrection is succinctly put by the apostle Peter: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)
This “last time” that Peter said would be revealed was referred to at Jesus’ ascension. To those watching as he went up into heaven, an angel said: “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
Jesus tells us to be alert and watch out for that return (Luke 21:8). The signs to look for in the world are very much those we see building up around us today: “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:25-28)
The inexpressible joy of this future return of Jesus was what helped Peter deal with the anguish and grief he experienced. His desire was: “Grace and peace be yours in abundance!” (I Peter 1:2) Christ’s resurrection and longed-for return means so much to Christians today, just as it did for Peter – to look forward to receiving the wonderful gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23) and to gain the peace of mind that having this purpose and certainty in life can bring.
No wonder Peter was so enthusiastic in sharing this message. He had seen the risen Lord; he had heard his teaching. And he was ready to share that with us.
In order to persuade everyone who listened (Acts 2:14-21) to the gospel message of salvation, Jesus performed lots of miracles to show that God worked through him. Now, he had been raised from the dead to give salvation to everyone who puts their lives in his hands. To make this point even clearer, Peter relates what the venerated Jewish leader David had said of his saviour over a thousand years before the time of Jesus: “My heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” (Acts 2:26-28, Psalm 16:8-11)
Peter continues: “I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.” (Acts 2:29-32)
Peter’s listeners were cut to the heart by these words, and about three thousand were baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. The impact of Jesus’ resurrection and his promised return was that they devoted their lives in fellowship by sharing all. They broke bread together in their homes to celebrate what Christ has done for them, and prayed with praise for this gift of salvation.
What is our response to this? Are we also going to share in the joy and hope of Christ resurrection? (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
For Peter there was such an outpouring of joy that the people raised their voices together in prayer to God. Their world was very much like ours today. There is turmoil all around and opposition abounds to the resurrection of Christ.
So our prayer is like theirs: “Sovereign Lord, they said, you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed… Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:24-26, 29-30)
The impact on the lives of those that listened and believed had immediate dramatic practical results. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” (Acts 4:32-34)
May we all hold fast in anticipation of the resurrection at Jesus’ return – that is the hope of all who put their faith in our risen Lord. As Jesus promises us: “Yes, I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (Revelation 22:20-21)
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Except where stated otherwise, scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.