Then He said to His disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them.” Luke 17:22-23
Where is Jesus? Years ago, when the family was still young, we went to the Minnesota State Fair. Although I have forgotten many of the details of that day, one remains in my memory. As we were driving we came across a small country church that was having a revival. We didn’t stop, but I remember thinking, “They’ve really pulled out the stops for this celebration.”
In anticipation of a crowd, they had set up a great, colorful tent—filled with folding chairs. The thing I remember most was the large rented sign the church had put out front. You know the kind of sign I mean: bright yellow, with spaces to hold interlocking black letters. The sign read, "Repent, Jesus is coming soon!!!" Yes, there were three exclamation marks at the end of the sentence. My wife Pam, who often sees things from a better and clearer perspective than I, silently took it all in. About five minutes, and five miles later, she asked, “I wonder for just how long they’ve rented that sign?"
Jesus is coming. No question about it. I know that's so because, in the inerrant, inspired Word of God, He says so. But when? When is Jesus coming? When will He return? Although I run the risk of disappointing you, I have to confess, “I don't know.” Nobody does. Yes, I know there have been all kinds of authorities who have gotten out their calculators and tried to predict when Jesus is going to return. I also know some brilliant people, who are trying to decipher hidden messages in Scripture that will give them a date. The bottom line is: They're guessing. They don't know.
I do know that Jesus is coming. He may come back in a general way to judge the entire world. He may come in a private way for you when you die. The idea of Jesus’ return should not, in any way, be frightening. Death holds no terror for those who have faith in the Savior, who know that Jesus is their heaven-sent Redeemer. With such faith, we are able to join St. Paul who says, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” Rather than being fearful, Christians can say: “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). God grant you be prepared.
Excerpt from The Lutheran Hour sermon preached November 14, 2004
THE PRAYER: Gracious Lord, may the power of your Holy Spirit guide and direct me to serve you in your Kingdom today. I rejoice that death has been swallowed in victory! Thanks be to God. Amen.
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