“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Even so. Amen.” (Revelation 1:7)
“Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)
Theologian and preacher Jonathan Edwards once famously prayed, “Oh God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!” It’s a bit of a strange prayer, but wouldn’t it change everything if we were always viewing life in light of God’s eternal kingdom and the inevitable return of King Jesus?
If we’re honest, how often do we really think about Jesus Christ’s promised return? Do we live as if we really believe Jesus is coming soon? Do our lives say “Come, Lord Jesus!” and do we long for His return? How does a vision of our future - of eternity with God - change the way we live in the now? Together, let’s explore three ways Jesus’ promised return chan ges everything.
It Sobers Us and Leads Us to Repentance
If you knew the Queen of England was coming to your home, what would you do? Would you sleep in, leave the house a mess, and greet her at the door in your pajamas? No way! How much more then should we make ourselves ready for the coming of the one true King, holy and bringing his recompense with him, “to repay each one for what he has done” (Rev. 22:12)?
When John the Baptist appeared on the scene, heralding the Messiah’s first coming, Matthew the disciple summarized his message as “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 3:1).” Likewise, Peter says “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter 4:7). The fact that Jesus’ second coming is imminent should be a wake up call for both believers and unbelievers, leading us to repentance and sober-mindedness (1 Peter 1:13, 4:7).
If Jesus is really coming back, let’s not be found “playing church” or fooling about with sin and lesser things, “like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea” (C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”). Let us be found enjoying the gospel, in a rhythm of confession and repentance. Let us be found awake, ready, and eagerly waiting!
It Gives Hope in Brokenness and Suffering
A few years ago, my father-in-law was diagnosed with ALS, a disease with no cure or real way to fight it. Your brain stops sending signals to your muscles - even to the involuntary muscles that you use to swallow and breathe. Slowly, your body deteriorates and death comes.
Surely there is no hope here, right? In the same way, where is the hope for the persecuted Christians in the Middle East, or the orphan, or the slave, or the widow?
And yet, the Bible says we should not lose heart. Why? Because we know Jesus - who also suffered - has conquered death and is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond compare (Romans 8:18). Revelation 21 gives us one of the sweetest promises in scripture: “He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away... ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”
As believers, we have a sure, living, eternal hope that does not change when we suffer, or the brokenness of the world comes to bear all around us. A vision of eternity - and of the Day when death will lose its sting and justice will be done - gives real, life-altering hope in our everyday. And so we eagerly await that Day and say with deep longing, “Come, Lord Jesus, come!”
It Gives Us a New Identity and Sends Us on a Mission
The Bibles says that if we are in Christ, God has redeemed us from the dominion of darkness and to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). Even though we live in the world, we live as “citizens of heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Our hope, boasting, and allegiance are pinned on Jesus our true King, who is coming soon! And so we fix our eyes on things above, not on earthly things that will not last (Colossians 3:2).
Even more, we are sent on a glorious, thrilling mission! Paul says that we are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Viewed in light of eternity, our assignment is not lackadaisical, but infused with a certain urgency. And so, by the Spirit, we man our post. We speak of the goodness of our King and His ways to those around us. And we pray that His kingdom would come, on earth as it is in heaven.
The Bible promises over and over again that Jesus w ill return. It is not a mere platitude or t heological idea, it a promise of God and therefore an inevitable fact! With this in mind, let’s wake up and let repentance ready our hearts. Let us hold fast to hope of heaven, even in suffering. And let us live a life worthy of our citizenship, proclaiming the goodness of our King as ambassadors of the gospel. Finally, let’s join with Edwards in praying “Oh God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!”
Jesus, make your Bride ready for your return! And come, Lord Jesus, come!