Jesus?" part 12
The Returning King
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
June 27, 2010
Who Is Jesus? Since Easter, that’s the one question we’ve been trying
to answer. And we’ve come at it from a variety of angles.
seen that Jesus was a real person who lived a couple thousand years
ago, and there’s reliable historic evidence of that fact, despite the
suggestion that some skeptics have made that Jesus never even existed.
We’ve seen that He did.
We’ve also seen that although He was a
man, He was much more than just a man. He was also God. The Creator of
the universe entered into His own Creation and lived among us. Jesus
was truly God, and He was truly man. That’s how His disciples saw Him,
that’s how He described Himself, and that’s who Christians have
understood Him to be since the first century.
Of course, being
God, you might think that Jesus would demand people to serve at His
beck and call. But when Jesus came, He said He came not to be served
but to serve and to give up His life for others. He set an example of
servanthood for us, and if we want to become more like Him we need to
be people that care about the needs of others and put them ahead of
And so He served. And we saw how He served. We saw
how He performed several miracles… healing people, casting out evil
spirits, controlling nature, even raising the dead.
taught people, too. Taught about how to love, taught about how to build
healthy relationships, taught about the Kingdom of Heaven… and often He
would use stories or parables as He taught. And so we talked about
Jesus as a storyteller, using the stories to direct people toward God
We also saw how Jesus described Himself. He
described Himself as being the One and only way to God the Father…
there is no other way but Him.
And He described Himself as the
Good Shepherd… as a shepherd care for, leads, and protects his sheep,
Jesus cares for, leads, and protects His people.
And of course
we talked about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus… the most
important events in all of History. And we saw how these aren’t just
statements of faith developed over the years by the Church, but they
were actual events that happened in real time and space, and there’s
evidence that points to them being authentic historic events. The
resurrection of Jesus, as incredible as it sounds, really happened!
as we progress through this series we also examine how Jesus compares
to other spiritual and religious figures. We saw what sets Him apart
from all the others.
Plus, we examined some of the alternative
views and opinions that people today have about Jesus… how some people
claim that our concept of Jesus is just a compilation of a variety of
pagan beliefs, that Jesus was just some man who achieved enlightenment
or God-consciousness, that He might be right for you but not for
others, how what you believe about Him doesn’t really matter as long as
you follow His teachings… we looked at these different views of Jesus
and pinpointed their fatal flaws.
Last week on Father’s Day, we
took a bit of a different look at Jesus and saw that Jesus wasn’t
really this lovey-duvey sissy baby-kisser that we sometimes make Him
out to be, but that there really was a tough side to Him… a side that
got angry, even physical, a side that sparred with the religious
experts of the day, a side that opposed injustice, a side that calls us
Wow, that’s a lot of terrain, isn’t it? We’ve
examined some pretty big issues when it comes to the identity of Jesus.
We’ve looked at doctrine, we’ve looked at theology, we’ve looked at
history. We’ve looked at how people the saw Him, we’ve looked at how
people today see Him, we’ve looked at what Jesus said about Himself.
We’ve looked at His miracles, we’ve looked at His teachings, and we’ve
looked at His death and resurrection.
And today, as we finish up this series, we’re going to look at
something that hasn’t happened yet… the second coming of Jesus.
we get to that, though, I want to award a prize. You may or may not
know that I keep track of who’s here from week to week, and so I want
to give a prize to the person who has been here for the most Sundays
during this series. Excluding myself and my family, of course.
And according to my records, we have a tie. The people who have been
here the most Sundays during this series are…
Gail, Jim & Lynn
with perfect attendance. Some of the rest of you had pretty good
records, too, missing only one or two Sundays, but those three were
here each and every week.
All right, so we’re talking about the
second coming of Jesus. What’s that all about? Well, let me give you a
bit of a chronology. God the Son entered into His own Creation, and we
know Him as Jesus. Jesus grew up, taught people, healed people, served
people, but ultimately His whole purpose in coming was to die for
people. So as we just reflected on during Communion, He willingly gave
up His life and died on the Cross.
But that wasn’t the end. On
the third day… the day we celebrate today as Easter… He rose from the
dead. And it wasn’t just a spiritual resurrection; it was a physical
resurrection. And He interacted with His followers over the next 40
days. And actually, not just His followers, but He interacted with
hundreds or even thousands of people over those 40 days.
then one day, as He was teaching His followers on the side of the Mount
of Olives, He literally began to rise in the air. And He ascended all
the way up into the clouds and out of sight. And then He was gone.
you can imagine His followers. They just stood there, looking up. They
couldn’t believe what they had just seen. Where did Jesus go? When
would they see Him again? Would they see Him again? And then, as they
stood there staring into the sky, this is what we read….
Acts 1:10-11 (NLT)
they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men
suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you
standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into
heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw
Now, Jesus had actually promised His disciples that
same thing earlier, but these angels restated it to them. Jesus was
gone for now, but He would be coming again.
No time frame was
given; just the fact that He would be returning. And today, that’s the
same promise that Christ-followers around the world continue to look
to. He hasn’t returned yet… although there have been plenty of people
who have claimed to be Jesus… but He will someday return, and there
won’t be any mistaking Him then.
So that’s what we’re talking
about when we talk about the Second Coming. Exactly how it’s going to
happen and when it’s going to happen and what else is going to happen
before and after is a hot topic of debate and has been for nearly 2000
years, but the one thing we know and can place our hope in is the
promise that Jesus will be coming again.
So in your notes, I’m going to give you a few facts about the Second
Coming and that’s the first one…
Jesus promised His followers that He will be returning.
already read what the angels said to the disciples; let’s look at one
of the times that Jesus promises His disciples that He’d be leaving
them for a time and then coming again.
John 14:2-3 (NLT)
is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When
everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always
be with me where I am.”
Now the truth is, those disciples had no
clue what Jesus was talking about there. Where was He going? How would
He get there? When would He be back? They couldn’t fully comprehend at
the time that He was talking about His crucifixion and resurrection,
about His ascension into Heaven, and His eventual return. They couldn’t
grasp it at the time, but as the events began to unfold they began to
understand what Jesus meant.
So right from that time… right from
that ascension on the side of the Mount of Olives... those early
Christians were convinced that Jesus was going to return. Now, they
didn’t know how long they would have to wait. In fact, they thought it
was going to happen during their lifetimes. Obviously it didn’t. But
from the first century all the way up to now, Christ-followers have
believed that Jesus could return at any time.
In fact, if you go
to some of our literature on the Information Table or visit our
website, you can find our statements of belief here at Sunrise and in
the Wesleyan Church. And here’s one of them…
“We believe in the
imminent and visible return of the Lord Jesus Christ who will take His
Church worldwide to its final home in Heaven.”
What does that
mean? It means we believe Jesus is literally… physically… going to come
back. Imminent means it’s going to happen and could happen at any time.
It could happen before we take our next breathe. It’s imminent. It’s
close at hand. We don’t know how close, but it’s close.
really don’t have a lot of doubt about that. It’s one of the clearest
promises in the Bible. In fact, I’ve read that for every verse
prophesying about the first coming of Jesus, there are eight
prophesying about His Second Coming.
Jesus is coming again. If
you believe the Scriptures, if you believe Jesus, and if you believe He
was telling the truth, then you can be sure He is going to come again.
Well, there may be no doubt about that. But there is a lot of doubt
about when. So that’s the second fact…
No one knows when Jesus will come again. That means no one.
emphasize that because there’s always someone who thinks they know
something the rest of us don’t. But the Bible tells us that no one
knows. But that hasn’t stopped people from trying to figure it out.
Listen to this… As early as the year 110, one of the early Church
theologians Ignatius wrote that…
“The last days are upon us. Weigh carefully the times. Look for Him who
is above all time, eternal and invisible.”
In 236 A.D., Hippolytus, wrote Jesus would be returning by 500 A.D.
the year 375 A.D., another Christian (Martin) wrote about how the
Antichrist had probably already been born, and the arrival of the
Antichrist is connected to the second coming of Jesus.
might expect, there was a lot of speculation the year 1000 A.D. That
era was filled with speculation and predictions about the return of
Jesus. In fact, the expectation level rose to the point where
Christians didn’t even plant crops for the next year, buildings weren’t
repaired, and the details of daily life were ignored. After all, soon
it wouldn’t matter anyway. But Jesus didn’t return then.
So in the 1500’s, Martin Luther wrote…
have reached the time of the white horse of the Apocalypse. This world
will not last any longer… than another hundred years.”
~ Martin Luther
that same time, Christopher Columbus weighed in. Along with being an
explorer, Columbus was also a student of biblical prophecy. And he
actually wrote a book called “The Book Of Prophecies,” in which he
predicted that the world would end in the year 1656.
happen, but then the year 1666 saw an explosion in End Times
speculation. One pastor wrote in his journal that every time a storm
hit that year, his people would go to the church building to await
Christ’s Second Coming.
In the 1800s, a man named William Miller
offered his own best guess. He suggested Jesus would return sometime
between March of 1842 and March of 1843. In fact, there was a whole
group of people called Millerites who were convinced it was going to
happen then. And they were devastated when it didn’t. But they weren’t
about to give up hope. So in 1844, in New Hampshire, one of the
Millerites stood up and declared that the return of Jesus would be in
the seventh month of the current Jewish year. October 22.
Millerites set out to warn the world, some of them closed their stores,
many moved out of the cities into the countryside. But the day came and
went, and no return. So they moved on to set another date five years
Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is actually a cult, started
about that time to offer dates of their own. And every time, they’ve
And still today, people are trying to figure it out.
I remember in 1988 when a man named Edgar Whisenant sold 4.3 million
copies of his book detailing why Christ would come in 1988. And I
remember hearing about students at Bethany Bible College who called
their friends and relatives who were far from God warning them and
pleading with them to get ready before it was too late. But December 31
came and went and no Second Coming.
Whisenant went one to write another book explaining why Jesus would
come in 1989. But this time he only sold 30,000 copies.
1992 Harold Camping released a book titled "1994" about the return of
Jesus. In 1993, he wrote another book called, "Much More Evidence That
1994 Could Be The End Of The World." But 1994 came and went.
I’m sure that won’t be the last attempt. In fact, I’m sure if you went
to bookstores today you could find plenty of predictions still being
offered. Problem is, these kinds of predictions are exactly what Jesus
was trying to prevent! Take a look…
Matthew 24:36 (NLT)
no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even
the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”
don’t know how many times I’ve had people ask me, “So… do you think
we’re living in the last days? When do you think Jesus is coming back?”
Let me answer that for you: I don’t know.
No one knows when He
will return. However, we are given some signs. And I think this is
where people get into trouble. Because the Bible does mention that
there are signs that His return is getting close. So people have been
looking for these signs and they’ve been using these signs as a way to
predict the date.
But again, Jesus didn’t give us these signs in
order to get us to waste our time guessing when He’s coming. He gave
them to remind us that He is coming.
And there’s a whole slew
of these signs mentioned in places like Matthew 24. We’re not going
through them all this morning, but there are signs like an increase in
the number of false Messiahs. And we’ve had our share in the past few
Like Jim Jones in Jonestown. Or David Koresh in Waco.
Every once in a while 60 Minutes and other news magazine shows like
that will do a feature on someone somewhere claiming to be the Messiah.
Apparently, there’s a Psychiatric Hospital in Jerusalem that treats
over 50 false Messiahs every year. So that’s a sign.
also supposed to be an increase in the number of natural disasters. And
how many have we heard about in just the past six months?
March 27th, 1964 there was a massive earthquake that hit Alaska,
measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale. Since then, there have been as many
major earthquakes recorded as there were in the previous 2000 years!
there’s going to be an increase in violence and war. Well, the 20th
century was unparalleled in the amount of human misery created by other
humans. The Red Cross has estimated that over 100 million people were
killed in wars during the 20th century. And that doesn’t include the
genocides that took place outside of wartime conditions and in
communist states and dictatorships.
Of course, there were a
couple of World Wars in there. But even since the end of World War
II, the death toll in armed conflicts has topped 23 million.
there are some pretty negative signs that the Second Coming is on its
way. But there is a positive sign mentioned in Matthew 24, too. Jesus
tells us there that the news about who Jesus is will spread to every
nation before He comes again.
Now, that’s probably not referring
to actual countries but to people groups. So before Jesus comes again,
every people group in the world will hear about Him. Does that mean
every person in each people group or is just one person enough? I don’t
But I do know that since the late 1800s, there’s been a
surge in world missions. There are missionaries that have gone to
pretty much every country in the world. We are getting closer and
closer to the time that the news about Jesus has spread everywhere.
this is really a great thing and it reflects His heart. Jesus wants to
wait until everyone has a chance to hear about Him and respond. And you
see that expressed in 2 Peter 3:9…
2 Peter 3:9-10 (NLT)
Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think.
No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be
destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will
So we don’t know when He’s coming back, but we do know
that there are some signs that are supposed to happen first. And it
certainly seems like those signs are being fulfilled. But still, I
can’t tell you if He’s coming next Tuesday at 5:00 or in another
Because you know what? Even with these signs, I
don’t think Jesus wants us to be wasting our time and embarrassing
ourselves making these bold predictions that just don’t come true.
Here’s what I believe… I believe He wants us to know that someday He
will be returning even though we don’t know when. I believe He told us
these signs to encourage us to trust Him and keep watching for Him. I
believe He wants us to live like He could come at any moment while
accepting that He might not come in our lifetimes.
And that’s number three…
I should live like He could return at any moment.
Not that He will return at any moment, because we don’t know that. But
that He could return.
But here’s a question: Why don’t we know when? Why can’t we know? Why
shouldn’t we know?
let me try to answer that question this way. Do you know how many times
when I was in college I would be up half the night finishing a project
that was due the next morning? It happened a lot more than it should
Do you know how many times during the last week of April
I’ve frantically searched through my house for all my receipts and
financial papers so I could get my taxes in on time? (For those reading
online, In Canada our tax returns are due April 30.)
Do you know how many times I’ve had to get up early to madly clean the
house the morning my in-laws are coming to visit?
you don’t have this problem, but I tend to procrastinate. I’ll put off
‘til tomorrow what I should be doing today. Now, I’m getting better.
But it’s my natural tendency.
So what am I saying? I’m saying
that if Jesus gave us a specific date when He’d be coming back, in all
likelihood we’d put off what we should be doing today. There’d be no
urgency to tell other people about Jesus, there’d be no necessity for
us to make spiritual growth a priority. We’d ignore issues of character
development. We’d start rationalizing that it’s okay to give in to
temptation and indulge ourselves and live sinful lives for a while
because we have this much time before we have to get right with God.
you see, it’s actually good that we don’t know how long we’ve got
before Jesus comes again. And it really could be at any given moment.
So we should take every moment of every day and live in such a way that
if Jesus returned at that moment that He would be pleased with how He
finds us spending our time.
Back in World War II, a German
theologian named Dietrich Bonhoeffer became famous for his opposition
to Hitler. In fact, his opposition ended up getting him imprisoned and
eventually executed. But despite the danger, Bonhoeffer continued his
own participation in the resistance movement and urged other
Christ-followers to do the same. One group of Christians, believing
that Hitler was the Antichrist, asked Bonhoeffer, “Why do you expose
yourself to all this danger? Jesus will return any day, and all your
work and suffering will be for nothing.”
You get that they were
saying? They were saying, “Jesus is coming soon anyway, so don’t put
yourself in any unnecessary danger. It’s pointless.” But see how
Bonhoeffer replied to them…
“If Jesus returns tomorrow, then
tomorrow I’ll rest from my labour. But today I have work to do. I must
continue the struggle until it’s finished.”
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
(Daily Bread, November 10, 1991)
Bonhoeffer was right. We don’t know when Jesus is coming again, whether
it’s today or centuries from now. Either way, it shouldn’t make any
difference. We need to be living each day in ways that honour Him and
that live up to His standards of holiness.
Matthew 24:42-44 (NLT)
you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your 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 also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when
I want you to underline two phrases: “Keep
watch” and “Be ready.” Think about this… Jesus says His Second Coming
will be like a burglar or like a thief in the night. How does a thief
come to your house? Suddenly and unannounced, right? After all, if you
knew when a robber was coming, you’d be ready for him, wouldn’t you?
But thieves rarely call and make appointments in advance. So we need to
keep watch and be ready.
Now, about that… about keeping
watch and being ready… you know that I don’t use high-pressure
techniques or scare tactics to get you to do what I want. I don’t think
I do that with anything. Like tithing. I don’t put pressure on because
I don’t want you to give because you’re pressured. I’d much rather you
gave because you love Jesus and you believe in the mission of our
Or about serving… I don’t try to guilt you into
volunteering to serve in our ministries. I’d rather you serve because
you love Jesus and you love people.
And I don’t want you scare
you into getting ready for the second coming, either. I mean, I believe
there’s an urgency and I believe the consequences of not being ready
are… well, they’re fatal. But rather than dealing in fear, I’d rather
you get ready by choosing to follow Jesus because you know it’s the
right thing to do. I’d rather you choose to believe that what He did on
the cross He did for you. I’d rather you follow Him because you love
But without trying to scare you, I do need to remind you of a couple
you really have no idea how much longer you’ve got. None of us do. Our
lives could be cut short in an instant. It’s not likely to happen, but
it could. So making up your mind about what to do with Jesus is not
something you want to put off indefinitely.
You have no idea how
much longer you’ve got. And the other thing is, you have no idea when
Jesus is going to return. It could be as early as today. And you’ve got
to be ready for Him before He comes. Afterward will be too late.
you’re a M*A*S*H fan, you may remember one episode when Hawkeye had to
go to the front lines because they were short of doctors there, and
while he was there the North Koreans attacked his position. So while
the battle raged on, Hawkeye found a piece of paper and started to
write his last will and testament.
Well, he kept writing in
between bombings through most of the episode, until finally another
doctor arrived and Hawkeye was able to go back to the good ol’ 4077.
Well, when he got there, it was late and he was exhausted, but he sat
down to finish his will, anyway.
Klinger came in, saw him
working on something, and told Hawkeye, “Go to bed… no paperwork is so
important it can’t wait until tomorrow.”
Hawkeye stops writing, looks up at him thoughtfully, and says, “I use
to think that way too, but not anymore.”
are you ready? Or are you putting it off? Look, I understand the
importance of thinking about it and investigating the facts so you can
make up your mind. But at some point, you’ve got to stop putting it
off. Let me encourage you this morning to get ready.
Get Ready! by Guy Caley
Be Prepared by Scott Weber
Are We Really Living in the End Times? by John Stensrud
Ready or Not Here I Come by Steven Pace
Will Jesus Come Again? by Brian Bill
Ready or Not, Here He Comes by Alan Smith