Jesus brings us together.TIF

Background Text: Matthew 24:26-31

Devotional Text: Hebrews 9:28

Each year, at Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is his first coming to Earth, God in the flesh, to save humankind.

We celebrate the story of his miraculous birth — how both Mary and Joseph received an angelic visitation, how he was born in a stable and slept in a manger, more angels appeared to the shepherds in their field at night proclaiming the good news of Jesus’ birth.

Later, we revisit the time his parents took him to the temple for consecration along with receiving the prophecies of Simeon and Anna, then later, the coming of the Magi, the exile to Egypt, and his temple visit at age 12.

Jesus came to Earth to save us, and Jesus will come again.

Throughout the Old Testament we see glimpses of the second coming of Christ. However, it is in Jesus’ own words, and the words of his disciples who wrote the New Testament, that we further understand what the second coming will mean. Let’s take a look at what they say to us today.

In John 14:1-3, Jesus spoke to his disciples about leaving them and going to heaven. Verse 3 says, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me...”

We are told not to be troubled nor afraid, for God’s plan includes all believers.

In Hebrews 9:27-28, we read, “Just as people are destined to die once, and then the judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

Reading these words, we wonder what the coming of Christ will look like?

We turn to the book of Acts for an insight. Acts 1 begins with Jesus giving last instructions to his disciples. In Verse 9, Jesus ascends right in front of them, and is hidden by a cloud.

Following his ascension, two men in white robes appear (Verses 10-11) to tell the disciples, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go.”

Furthermore, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, speaks to us this way, “...the Lord, himself, will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God; and the dead in Christ will rise first. ... After that, we who are still alive ... will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

From Luke 21:25-36, Jesus said there will “be signs in the sun, moon and stars... .” He continued by describing changes on Earth, adding even “the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” This verse is followed by, “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

The last book of the Bible, written by the apostle John, gives us these words from Revelation 1:7: “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the Earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.”

From these verses of Scripture we know that Jesus will appear in a cloud. There will be a loud trumpet call and angels will be with him. Everyone, all the Earth, will see his coming.

Look for the Signs

Next, we want to know when this will take place. What are signs of the second coming?

Looking at the words of Jesus found in Matthew 24:36, Jesus said, “no one knows the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Earlier in Verses 4-5, Jesus advised his followers to, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and deceive many.”

In Verse 24:44, he continued, “So you must be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

As we wait for his arrival, what must we do besides staying watchful?

In Titus 2, we are reminded to live rightly, loving one another, doing good, being kind to one another, and to have self-control. We should live upright and godly lives, “while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

From James we are advised to “be patient, then, until the Lord’s coming. ... Be patient and stand firm, because the Lord is coming near,” (James 5:7-8).

Understanding we must be watchful and keep the commands of Christ to love God and to love one another, we are urged to live a good life, being content with what we have, and kind to others.

So far, we have looked at what the Scripture says about what we can do as we wait for the second coming of Christ. We have read about the heavenly signs, but have only touched upon what the world will look like when Jesus returns. Next week, we will continue with the words of Jesus concerning the future and when he finally does come again.

Have a blessed Christmas!

Lancaster Farming

The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh is the pastor of Schenevus United Methodist Church in Schenevus, New York.

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