The Second Advent

August 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Devotions

“And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in Heaven, and the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” MATTHEW 24:30-31

Advent is a season with a two-fold focus. It is a time in which Christians recall and celebrate Jesus Christ’s entrance into our world to redeem mankind and triumph over death. It is also a period in which believers look forward to the “Second Advent” – the day when He will come back.

For nearly 2,000 years, Christians have lived in the hope of Our Lord’s imminent return. Jesus’ description of the event spans two chapters in the Gospel of Matthew (24-25) and is usually read as part of the lectionary as Christmas nears. The Second Coming was also an emphasis in the epistles of Paul, Peter and John. Bible scholars cite more than 300 references to it in the New Testament.

In his teachings about the Second Coming, it’s important to understand that Jesus emphasized spiritual preparation rather than irresponsible speculation.

A philosopher once observed that people on their deathbed rarely conclude that they wish they’d spent more time at work. They become focused on faith, family, how they’ll be remembered and what happens when they die. Priorities that elude us in the course of our busy daily routine become crystal-clear if our hours appear numbered.

In the same way, the possibility that Jesus may show up at any moment forces Christians to maintain an attitude of vigilance and preparedness. The prospect of meeting God face-to- face helps sort our priorities, and our relationship with the Lord goes right to the top of the list. Which, as Christ taught us, is as it should be (“love the Lord with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul.”) It reminds us that it matters whether we greet the Lord as an old friend or as a stranger.

Christianity is a faith that takes the long view of world events. It believes that understanding the beginning and end of time provides us with perspective on everything in between, and reminds us that God is in charge throughout.

Christ always made a distinction between the temporary nature of our worldly existence and the permanence of the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s hard for us to let go of our attachments to this life. The “end of the world” is frightening to us because we instinctively fear change and cling to what we know, even when we are promised something far better.

At Christmas, we celebrate the beginning of the mission Christ will complete at the Second Coming – to free us from our dependence upon this world; to secure eternal life for each and every believer through his work on our behalf. “In this world you will have tribulation,” Jesus said. ” But take heart – I have overcome the world!”

These meditations were prepared by Rich Miller of Lawrenceville, New Jersey. 

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  • Hopewell United Methodist Church

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