Jesus describes his second coming.

by K.W. Leslie, 04 December

The first hint we have that Jesus is arranging a second coming—that he’s not taking possession of his kingdom during his first coming—appears in the Olivet Discourse, the bit in Mark 13, Matthew 24-25, and Luke 21, where Jesus answered his students’ question about a future disaster he’d just casually referred to. Mk 13.1-2, Mt 24.1-2, Lk 21.5-6

In each gospel’s version of the discourse, Jesus brought up the persecution of his followers, a particular time of great suffering which’d take place in Jerusalem, and fake Messiahs and prophets who’d try to lead them astray. But afterwards, this:

Mark 13.24-27 KWL
24 “But in those days after that suffering:
‘The sun will be darkened and the moon won’t give its light.’ Ek 32.7
25 The stars will be falling from the skies; the heavenly powers will be shaken.
26 Then people will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ Da 7.13 with great power and glory.
27 Then he’ll send angels, and gather together his chosen ones from the four winds,
from the earth’s edge to heaven’s edge.”

Where’s Jesus during this suffering and persecution? Apparently not here. Which meant he was gonna leave. Which is not what his students were expecting. Even though he repeatedly told ’em they were going to Jerusalem where he’d be killed, Mk 8.31-32, 9.31, 10.33 they expected they were going to Jerusalem for him to conquer it. Even after he was raised, they expected him to take it over at that time! Ac 1.6 Fond beliefs are awfully hard to give up.

I don’t blame ’em for wanting Jesus to take over Jerusalem immediately. I want him to do that too. But first things first. First the period of suffering, like the bit where Jerusalem fell to the Romans, who performed horrible atrocities on its inhabitants in the year 70. Then the persecution of Jesus’s followers, which—despite large breaks, and powerful sanctuary nations like the United States—continue to this very day, in the millions, far more than there have ever been. And of course fake Messiahs and prophets, which we have in the States as well, ’cause comfortable Christians are way easier to lead astray than those who depend on God minute by minute.

The conditions are right for Jesus to return at any instant. The sooner the better. Come Lord Jesus!

Like Daniel described.

Jesus’s favorite term for himself, “the Son of Man,” comes from the very Daniel passage he quoted about “coming in the clouds.”

Daniel 7.13-14 KWL
13 I dreamt a prophetic vision that night: Look, someone like a Son of Man!
Coming in the heavens’ clouds, approaching the Ancient of Days, coming near to him.
14 The Ancient gave the Son authority, honor, and the kingdom,
and every people, nation, and language, who’ll bow to his authority.
His authority is permanent: It never passes away.
His kingdom can never be destroyed.

By the time of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus had called himself the Son of Man so often, they knew precisely who he meant—even if they hadn’t yet linked it to the Daniel vision. Now they couldn’t help but link ’em together. Jesus was the Son of Man who appeared in the clouds to not just take over Jerusalem, but the world.

And while it didn’t yet wholly sink in to these students that Jesus was gonna leave, they did realize he’s gonna show up in the clouds somehow. The sky will go black, the heavenly clouds will pour forth, and Jesus will appear with a billion ass-kicking angels. And, as we know from other scriptures, he’s accompanied by several billion resurrected Christians and followers of God, all from the beginning of history till now. Including you and me. We won’t be watching this from earth. We’ll be at Jesus’s side.

“Billion” is not an exaggeration. Billion is a low estimate. There are two billion Christians in the world right now. True, most of us suck at following Jesus, but most of us will still eagerly rush to his side at his return. The sheer numbers in Jesus’s company are gonna overwhelm any opposition the surprised earth might muster.

And then what? Kingdom Come actually does come.

Back to the students.

I’m still not sure whether the news their Lord was going away for a time, really sunk in to the students who heard Jesus teach this. From the way Jesus described the suffering, it wasn’t gonna be a brief time either. It was gonna be years. (Turned out centuries.) Way longer than any of ’em imagined it’d take before their Master took his throne.

What’d that mean for them in the meanwhile? They were to do the job Jesus was preparing them to do. Follow him. Be his apostles. Do as he does, teach as he teaches, act like citizens and diplomats of God’s kingdom till Jesus finally turns the kingdom into a real-world institution.

What about suffering? Well, Jesus didn’t sugar-coat things. Elsewhere he told them,

John 16.33 KWL
“I told all of you these things so you can have peace in me.
In the world, you’ll have suffering. But cheer up! I’ve conquered the world.”

Death is defeated, and sin is atoned for. All that needs happen next is for Jesus to return. So let’s get our act together.