The Coming of Jesus
It’s not bad that people think about Jesus in December. We wish that people would think about Jesus the whole year around, but we will take what we can get when it comes to opportunities. Regardless of conceptions, misconceptions, information, misinformation, and other ideas, as Jesus’ name is uttered, Christians need to stand up and hold fast the word of life (Phil 2:16).
One of the terms associated with the December time-frame is “advent.” It’s not a bad term either. In fact, we sing about it when preparing for the Lord’s Supper: “with the last advent we unite, until He comes.” “Advent” comes from the Latin adventus and means “arrival” (used in the Latin Vulgate). It corresponds to the Greek parousia, which, in our English versions is often translated as “coming.” Other terms (e.g., erchomai) may also be translated as “come.” The idea of the “advent” or “coming” of Jesus is biblical, whatever else may be associated with it outside the scriptural context. Because it is a biblical idea, we need not shy away from it. In fact, we need to be teaching the truth about it, particularly while people are thinking about it.
The “coming” of Jesus can be spoken of in different ways. For example, there was a “coming of the Son of Man” upon Jerusalem in judgment (Matt 24:27, 29). When God brought judgment upon a city or a nation, it was a time of visitation or coming from God. Jesus warned the church at Ephesus that if they did not repent, “I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Rev 2:5). He also promised the church at Pergamum that if they did not repent, He would come to them soon and make war “with the sword of my mouth” (Rev 2:16). This is not how we want Jesus coming to us in time.
For our purposes, let’s simplify the concept of the coming of Jesus Christ and think about it in three more primary ways:
1. He Came in the Flesh. The birth of Jesus into this world is a coming of our Lord in order to accomplish salvation. His name would be “Jesus,” for He would save the people from their sins, and “Immanuel,” for God is with us (Matt 1:21-23). When Jesus was brought to the temple after His birth, Simeon had been waiting. The Holy Spirit had told him that he would not see death until he had seen “the Lord’s Christ.” When He took Jesus up in His arms, He praised God “for my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:30). Jesus, God manifested in the flesh, has come into the world for salvation (John 1:14). As Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David” (Luke 1:68-69). This looked past John to Jesus Himself, for whom John would be the forerunner.
2. He Abides with us Now. When we enter into that redeemed relationship with God, there is a sense in which He visits or comes to us. We, of course, are to “come to him,” also (1 Pet 2:5). James promises, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (Jas 4:8). The term used here has that sense of coming, approaching, or being at hand. God draws near to us, abides with us and in us, as we trust in Him. This is God’s presence among us. “Abide in Me, and I in you,” Jesus told His disciples (John 15:4). We have God’s promise that He will never leave or forsake us (Heb 13:5). So must we not forsake Him.
3. He’s Coming Again. Scripture tells us, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb 9:27-28). Jesus is coming again. After the resurrection and at the ascension, angels promised the disciples, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). This is the time of the final resurrection in which all will hear His voice and come forth, “those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29). This visitation will be for all, good and bad, and for final judgment (2 Cor 5:10). Such a day has been appointed and proof given through the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 17:30-31).
Jesus came in the flesh; He will come again. In the meantime He is with us, abiding with us and drawing near as we draw near to Him. Let us ever be mindful of the presence of our Lord in our lives. “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming” (1 John 2:28).