How Will Jesus Return?
The Bible speaks of the Lord returning visibly with great power and glory.
Five hundred years prior to Christ, the prophet Zechariah wrote of the Lord coming to Jerusalem during a time of intense war. Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies from “all nations.” The battle will be bloody and fierce, and the armies of Israel will be overwhelmed by its enemies. Then, something dramatic will change everything.
Suddenly, when all hope seems gone, the Jews will gaze up in the sky and see their mighty Lord himself coming in the clouds. We are told that “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.” The Lord speaks through the prophet, telling us how he will be recognized when he returns:
“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.”
It is important to understand that this prophecy of the Messiah’s return to Jerusalem was written five hundred years before Jesus was born. No other person in history has been pierced, died and returned to life. It will be an incredible, emotionally moving experience for all who see him.
In an instant, the Jews defending their city will realize that the Lord saving them is the very Jesus whom their ancestors had rejected. How will they recognize him? The same way the disciples recognized Jesus after his resurrection: by the nail prints in his hands. It is then that they will weep bitterly, and “mourn for him as for an only son.” It is then that they will realize his great love for them.
When Jesus returns, those who have already died “in Christ” will be the first to meet him in the air. Then those from every nation who are still alive and trust him as their Lord and Savior will meet him in the air. Bible scholars disagree on the timing of these amazing events; however, as Paul wrote, we should be watching and waiting for the “blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Jesus’ promise to return will be fulfilled just as literally as were prophecies of his first coming. It will be in God’s time when all prophesied world events are finally in place. His return will be a time of joy and reward for believers, but a time of horrible judgment for unbelievers.
C. S. Lewis cited three propositions to remember about Jesus’ return:
- He will certainly return
- We cannot possibly find out when
- Therefore we must always be ready for him
We have already established that Jesus promises to return, and that his words are believable. We have also seen that Jesus himself said that we cannot know exactly when he will return. But how do we prepare for his return?