When did you last think about Jesus’ return? I can still remember one of our children exclaiming in surprise, “What? Jesus is coming back?” I was embarrassed to realise that It clearly hadn’t been central to what I had been teaching them up until then. No doubt I had emphasised Jesus’ life, and especially his death and resurrection. But what of his return?
Former generations of Christians would encourage one another with the words, “He who came is who is coming,” reminding one another that it’s the same Jesus, and that we cannot separate his two comings (even if they are separated in time). Indeed, Jesus will come a second time to complete the salvation he began when he came the first time. Writing to Titus, Paul says that we live between these two “appearings”: the day when “the grace of God … appeared” and “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11,13).
The early Christians were right to make it their prayer, the prayer the Bible appropriately closes with: “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). The Earl of Shaftesbury clearly took this to heart, famously saying towards the end of his life in 1885, “I do not think that in the last forty years I have lived one conscious hour that was not influenced by the thought of our Lord’s return.” This is the day, and this is the person, towards which all of history, and each one of us, is moving.
Yours warmly, in this Jesus,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister)