When He Returns In His Glory.
Matthew 16:27-28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:26-27
“For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.” – Matthew 16:27 NLT
The Second Coming of the Lord. It is a real-life event that is on God’s divine schedule. It will take place and its outcome is certain. At this moment in His discussion with the disciples, Jesus alludes to His coming return. But keep in mind that the disciples had not yet bought into the idea that He as going to have to die, resurrect and leave them. We just saw the reaction of Peter when Jesus explained to them the things that were going to have to happen to Him in Jerusalem. He had told them, “it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead” (Matthew 16:21 NLT). And Peter’s response to this news was to rebuke Jesus and demand that God prevent it from happening. “Heaven forbid, Lord! This will never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22 NLT).
Jesus explains to Peter and the disciples that all of these things must happen. They are part of God’s plan. And as Christ’s followers, they are going to have to bear their own crosses. They are going to have to give up their lives as they have known them and be willing to suffer along with Christ in the spread of His Kingdom on earth. Jesus is trying to prepare these men for the days that are ahead of them. He knows that all of this news is difficult for them to hear, but they must be strong. He must die. He must be buried, resurrected on the third day, and then return to His Father in Heaven. But then He lets them know that some day He will return. He wants to live with that thought in mind. He wants them to be faithful and strong, following His example of obedience and sacrifice. He warns them, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels” (Luke 9:26 NLT). The interesting, and somewhat confusing, thing about this word from Jesus is that none of these men will be around when Jesus returns the second time. That event has yet to take place. Yet Jesus is telling them they should live in faithfulness and readiness. This is a common message from Jesus regarding His Second Coming. In Matthew 24, in what is called His Olivette Discourse, Jesus told the disciples in more detail the events surrounding the end of the age. He tells them about the Great Tribulation and warns them how hard it is going to be. Then He tells them that it will end with His return to the earth. And he says, “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day you Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You must also be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected” (Matthew 24:42-44 NLT). None of the disciples would live to see this day, but yet He tells them to be ready all the time. They were to live in a state of readiness and preparedness, as if He was coming back in their lifetime. And we should do the same. His coming is certain. He is going to return in power and glory. And when He does, He will not be coming back as a baby in a manger, but as a conquering King. He will establish His Kingdom on earth, and rule from Jerusalem in righteousness and glory.
But again, these are future events. They have yet to happen. The disciples would not live long enough to see them take place, and yet Jesus told them, “some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom” (Matthew 16:28 NLT). What in the world is He talking about? Ah, great question! And the answer comes tomorrow. So keep reading. But the real message from today’s passages is that God has a plan. There is a bigger picture we must keep in mind when it comes to the redemptive work of God in the world. It is multifaceted and complex. There are a number of things that must happen along the way for His complete plan to be fulfilled. The death, burial and resurrection of Christ was one of them. The coming of the Holy Spirit and the start of the Church was another. The ultimate return of Christ for His bride, the Church, is yet another. This is known as the rapture of the Church and it must happen before the rest of the events of the end times can take place (1 Thessalonians 5:15-18). Then there will be the time known as the Great Tribulation, a seven year period on earth that will see the rise of the Antichrist, who sets up a one-world government, establishes himself as God, and turns the wrath of the world against the chosen people of God, the nation of Israel. This period will end with the Second Coming of Christ. God’s plan is detailed, specific, and set in stone. It cannot be thwarted, changed, or altered in any way. The disciples needed to know that. We need to know that. We must live with the end in mind. This is not all there is.
Father, give us an end-times perspective. Help us live with our hearts set on Your Son’s eventual return. That is the key to this whole mess being cleared up once and for all. Your ultimate plan is to redeem the world, both men and creation. You want to reestablish the order, peace, and perfection You originally created in the beginning. Your plan is to return things to the way they were in the beginning before man sinned. That is the goal. That is what we should long for. Even if we die and go to be with You in heaven, the plan is not complete. Sin will still reign and rule on earth. The creation will still be imperfect, Satan will still be destroying the souls of men and women, and the Kingdom of God will not be complete on the earth. That is the day we should desire more than anything else. Help us keep our minds alert, ready and focused on Your Son’s eventual return. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men