By Steve DuPlessie | April 1, 2018
Acts chapter 1 tells us that Jesus met, 40 days after the resurrection, with the eleven remaining disciples one last time outside Bethany. Verse 6 tells us, “Then they gathered around him and asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time you’re going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’” They were still fixated on the Triumphal Entry/King thing…
“He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”
Verse 9, “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” Apparently just he went straight up, out of their sight. As the disciples stood there, awestruck, incredulous, amazed, staring, mouths hanging open, into the clouds, the text tells us “…suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back… will come back in the same way you have seen him go … into heaven.’”
There’s another chapter to be written…
And with that we understand that there’s another chapter yet to be written. He will return! He said we can’t know the day or the hour. But one thing’s for sure, the King is coming!
Later James, the half brother of Jesus — converted late to faith after the resurrection of Jesus — wrote, “Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You must be patient, too. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near!” Catch that excitement, that anticipation? “The coming of the Lord is near!”
The Apostle Paul, writing to sisters and brothers in the region of Thessaloniki in Greece, wrote, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
Again, Paul, challenging his protégée Titus to live in a way that honored his Savior, wrote, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own” (Titus 2:11, 12). “Waiting for our blessed hope…”
Living in eager expectation…
That’s living holy lives in eager expectation. Living in hope-filled anticipation. Not just accepting intellectually, but actually counting on, watching for, praying for, hoping for, preparing for, Jesus’ imminent, any-moment return; living like it could be today!
I joke frequently about eating dessert first; I mean, why eat vegetables first and leave dessert behind for the pagans if Jesus should return suddenly before I get to the strawberry-rhubarb pie with coffee ice cream. But I grew up with sisters and brothers in Christ who said things like, “I’m going, Lord willing, on vacation next week.” Or, “Let’s plan to do that at 2 tomorrow, if the Lord tarries…” There was this prevailing attitude of living in constant readiness, constant anticipation, hope-filled expectation, that the King is coming.
Sisters and brothers, that hopeful watching and waiting is missing from us. Totally missing. We’ve been lulled, seduced by 2,000 years of waiting into thinking that there’s another 2,000 years to wait. Listen, that’s un-bliblical thinking. That’s disobedient thinking. Jesus said, “Watch and wait.” Be ready. Live like it’s today. So I’m going to summarize all that as “Be watching.”
But did you notice that just before he left, Jesus gave the 11 disciples instructions for their mission: You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth!” So we’re not supposed to sell all our stuff, and sit on the roof waiting. We’re supposed to be working, on mission. So that’s “Be watching, and, be working while you’re waiting.”
BE WATCHING, AND BE WORKING WHILE YOU’RE WAITING
Sure, go ahead and plan for college or marriage or even retirement. But plan with the expectation that it might never happen, because … the King is coming! I don’t know about you but I can’t wait! There’s nothing here worth holding onto! There’s nothing so great down here that won’t be so much better in the new heaven and new earth of eternity! No sickness, no sadness. No pain or death. No poverty or violence. Just joy, peace, justice! All good!
Unless, of course, you’re not exactly sure where you’re going after this life is over. If that’s the case, then I want to help you get that straight today. Check out this short video, then email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to follow up on that.
But, if you’re confident about the next life after this life, then I urge you to “sleep with one eye open,” (just kidding!), but actually live every day to the fullest, watching, waiting, expecting that the King is coming. That’s when “Justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24) Everything will be made right when the King gets here! And the King is coming! Maybe today! I can’t wait!!