Christ will come again
By the Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer
Background text: Matthew 25:31-46
Devotional text: John 3:16
We have been reading about Advent, the coming preparation of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
Last Sunday, the fourth candle was lit. It was the candle of love. It reminds us of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
On this Christmas Eve, we introduce the white Christ candle. White is the symbol of purity. As we light this candle, we think of the glory of the Lord and how he came to earth to offer us salvation.
Once again, we read scriptures from the New Testament gospels of Matthew, Luke and John that highlight the first coming of Christ as a baby born of Mary, a virgin, who traveled to Bethlehem where the birth took place.
Just as we read three weeks ago about the Old Testament prophecies from Isaiah 9:2, being fulfilled in Matthew 4:15-15 and John 1:3-5, the entire worship service on Christmas Eve takes us from the Old Testament prophecies to the fulfillment in the New Testament.
From 2 Samuel 7:16, Isaiah 7:14 and Micah 5:2, we find these prophecies fulfilled in Matthew 1, Luke 1 and 2. You can find these prophecies in more depth in my column “Preparing for Christmas.”
Many people like to especially attend on Christmas Eve because of the colors and lights and the singing while they once again hear the story of Christ’s birth. This glorious service recounts the prophecies along with the New Testament activity surrounding Christ’s birth, interspersed with well-known songs such as “Joy to the World,” “Away in a Manger,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.”
At the end of the service, the lights are turned out. Everyone holds a candle and stands up. The first candle is lit from the Christ candle, and then each candle is lit around the room. The final song — “Silent Night” — is sung.
As the lights are turned back on and people greet one another before returning home, the Christ candle remains lit. Christ, the light of the world.
It’s a beautiful service with the singing of joyful songs honoring the newborn Baby Jesus.
More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus came to us. As he grew into his earthly ministry, he brought us salvation, eternal life and a new life here on earth. He took away our sins and forgave us as we chose to accept him as our Savior. And it continues today, turning to Jesus, finding a new and better way to live.
We have looked at scriptures that speak to us about the new life in Christ in previous columns and will continue to do so. However, today I’d like to have us think about a future coming, the Second Coming of Christ.
Although we find scripture concerning the Second Coming in the Old Testament, we’re going to look at the New Testament today and see what Jesus himself had to say.
From the teaching of Jesus on the Mount of Olives, we find in Matthew 25:31-32, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”
Going on to Mark 13:26-27, we find Jesus addressing some of his disciples with these words (this is a partial recording of the entire scripture which is Mark 13:5-37): “At that time, you will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather the elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”
Similar words by Jesus are found in Luke 21:25-36. These are his words in verses 25-28: “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
“At that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
We know through the very words of Jesus that his Second Coming will be totally different from his first. At his Second Coming, we will see his coming in a cloud with power and might. His angels will be with him.
It will be an event that no one will miss.
No one knows the day or time of Christ’s return, just as no one knew of his First Coming, born as a baby boy. He was not expected to come as a baby.
The first time he came to earth, he established a ministry to teach us about God, salvation and living a better life here on earth.
This is what 1 John 3:2-3 tells us about his Second Coming: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”
At his Second Coming, we will see him in all his power as he brings redemption to those who have followed him.
As we celebrate this Christmas season, let’s remember also that Christ is coming again.