“Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him— even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! “
Revelation 1:7 NLT
John would have been in the little group of disciples who stood with Jesus on the Mount of Olives, just outside Jerusalem, as He provided their final instructions and answered their last questions. And then, as they were speaking with Him, He was taken up from their presence into the clouds. They strained to see Him go, but as they were doing so, two angels suddenly turned up, wearing white robes, telling them that Jesus had gone up into Heaven, but would return the same way at some future date. We can read the story in Acts 1:6-12.
So John would have been very certain of his facts when he said Jesus “comes with the clouds of Heaven“. And John goes on to tell his readers that everyone will see Jesus when He returns, including those who crucified Him. John may have been confirming Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 7:13, “As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence“. He would also have been aware of the prophetic words in Zechariah 12:10, “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died“. But John’s words were very clear. Jesus will return one day, and there will be a global outbreak of mourning for what sinful men and women did to Him. And still do, come to that.
How does all that matter for today’s pilgrims? Surely we just continue as normal, interested and even excited by the Second Coming of Jesus, but not considering it as an event all that relevant. After all, the chances of it happening in our lifetimes must be pretty remote.
In Matthew 25, Jesus told the story of the wise and foolish virgins. Five of them were prepared for the coming of the bridegroom. They had enough oil for their lamps, so they were the wise ones. But the other five didn’t have enough oil, and in the process of trying to buy some they missed out on celebrating the marriage feast with the bridal party. These were the foolish ones because they weren’t ready for the bridegroom’s coming. Jesus ended the parable with these words, “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.” (Matthew 25:13 NLT). The meaning of this parable was that wise people are always ready for the Lord’s return, whenever that might be, while the unwise, the foolish, put off their readiness until it is too late.
Today’s pilgrims must live as though Jesus was coming today. So we keep spiritual short accounts, confessing our sins. We encourage one another. We continue to help each other. We look for opportunities to share our messages of hope with those around us. Today’s pilgrims want to be found by Jesus as faithful servants – Jesus graphically told the story of a faithful servant, and the consequences of being unfaithful, in Matthew 24:45-51.
But moving on out of negative territory, the second coming of Jesus will be amazing. Words cannot described the wonder of that event. The excitement for those ready and waiting. After all, His first coming was full of wonder and amazing things, with visions of singing angels, stars and all. His second coming will, in some ways, be the opposite to His first – everyone will see Him coming as a King, in all His Heavenly majesty, not just a select few witnessing the events around the birth of the son of God. And we read in Philippians 2:10-11, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”. That’s pretty inclusive, folks. He will be seen by everyone.
Father God. Today we enter Your presence with deeply grateful hearts, for all You have done for us. We echo the words at the end of this book, “Come Lord Jesus”. Amen.