He Will Return
Four great events stand out above all others in the story of Jesus. These events are His birth, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension. These are the four rounds in the ladder of light, the bottom rung is upon the earth, but the top rung reaches into heaven. We can afford to ignore any one of these four events in His life. All four are equally as important. Jesus, the Son of God, born of a woman, unites with us as our brother and gives Him the taste of humanity. That Jesus loved so so that He suffered unto the death for our sins, making full atonement for us grants us a new lease on life. Both the manger and the cross are divine seals of God’s love for this world. That Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, rose from the dead is the Title Deed for our justification, which is a foretaste of all of those who belong to Him will also rise from the dead and their eternal life in Him is made secure. Jesus once said, “Because I live you shall live also.” The resurrection of Christ is the morning star of our future glory. Let us not downplay His ascension. This song ought to resonate in all of our hearts— “Thou hast ascended on high; Thou has led captivity captive, Thou has received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.” (
The birth points to His death. The death points to His resurrection. The resurrection points to His ascension. All of the four create this golden chain that is made perfect by our Lord’s second and most glorious advent. We know of nothing between His ascent - that is His ascension- and His descent-that is His Second Coming. All that is taking place now, between His ascent and His descent is a valley between two unbelievable mountains: We move with great anticipation from the ascent to the descent. Think about it for a moment with me. Had He not come a first time as the Lamb of God, born under the law, He could not come a second time as the Lion of Judah, clothed in amazing glory “without a sin offering unto salvation.” He had to die only once. He will not die again. Death has no hold or dominion over Him. When He returns the second time, He comes to destroy death that last enemy, who He conquered in His resurrection.
tells us that when our Lord returns those who fell asleep while waiting for His return will be caught up first to meet Him in the air. Again it says, that we will be with the Lord forever. So keep these four rungs in view so that you can be ready for that great day of celebration when our Lord shall descend out of heaven with a shout and the trumpet shall sound announcing His return. That will be a glorious day. Let your faith carry you from His birth to His death, and from His resurrection to His ascension. But don’t stop there. Stand on your toes in anticipation of His coming again.
This is the missing element within the church today. We don’t have that degree of anticipation for our Lord’s second coming. We have corrupted our celebration of His birth by making it all about giving gifts to each other. We only think about His death around Easter, but that too has been corrupted by our emphasis on the Easter bunny and Easter Eggs. Many do not understand the ascension; we know that Jesus is no longer with us in the flesh, but beyond that we don’t understand the significance of His ascension. This needs to change, for these four rungs are important if we are going to anticipate stepping forth on the fifth rung of the ladder. Our Lord is coming again.
This evening, as we ponder over this particular passage of Scripture let us begin at the ascension. Fifty days have passed since our Lord was resurrected from the dead. On several occasions He showed Himself to His disciples. And now, they are together again in Galilee. Old memories linger long in the disciples minds as they reflected upon the awesome and power sign demonstrated in Galilee. As they walked and talked with Jesus, they had no thought about Him leaving them again. Enamored with His presence, they walked with Him, hanging on every word He uttered. They were happy now. The clouds of sadness are gone, replaced with faces beaming with joy. There hearts pondered the mystery of resurrection, but they did not dwell long on the thought because they were happy to be re-united with their Lord. Now they come to the slope of Olivet and begin to climb the mountain with Him. Memories flooded in as they recalled the many miracles He performed, the instructions He gave and the lives that were transformed. The Savior stands in the center of the group, continuing to give them His final instructions. As He talked, He began to slowly rise from the earth. As He rose, His brilliance begin to outshine the noonday sun. With great speed, He rises above the olive grove until He reaches the region of the clouds. The disciples, speechless with astonishment, saw a bright cloud, like a chariot of God, bear Him away.
That cloud concealed Him so that they could no longer gaze upon His face. This was all unexpected! They were not ready for Him to leave. Suddenly they realized that they would not know Christ in the flesh no more. But they are glued to the spot, with their eyes gazing upward, wonder-struck, unable to gather their wits about them, fixated upon their last and final glimpse of Jesus, their Lord and Master.
You and I would be just as awe-struck and fixated upon our Lord’s ascent as these disciples were. They just stood there, gazing up in amazement, lost in a trance until two angels appeared and broke their fixation, with the words of my text: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” These words, from these angelic messengers were enough to arrest their gazing, returning them back to reality and the work which lay before them.
For a brief moment I want to consider three thoughts: The gentle Rebuke given by the angels:--”Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing upon unto heaven?” Secondly, The Gracious description of our Lord which the white-robed angels used,--”This same Jesus”; and then, thirdly, The Great truth which they taught--”This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”
The Gentle Rebuke
The Gentle Rebuke
First, there is the GENTLE REBUKE. The angels appeared to stop the disciples from spending their time gazing up unto heaven. They were to finish the work Jesus began on earth, but as long as they were gazing they could not focus on what they had to do here. The words they utter were not harsh; nor were they condemning. They were simply a reminder to them that they must be about their Lord’s work. These angels were not loud and boisterous, they were soft spoken, but to the point. They knew how to confront men with the truth without belittling them or berating them. They simple they them a reminder, a nudge in the right direction, with their gentle rebuke.
As we try to encourage one another to be about the Master’s work, we need to use a gentle voice in speaking to one another. Our responsibility is not to lord it over our brothers or sisters, but to help them move forward, instead of standing still, or worse yet, of living in the past.
If we could only learn how to speak to each other in love, then we would be able to accomplish far more than we think we are capable of. If we take a lesson from these Angels, we would move from gazing to working without any problem.
The Gracious Description
The Gracious Description
Listen to these two Angels, they knew Jesus personally, therefore their description of Him is spot on. “He was seen of angels”; they had watched Him all His life long, and they knew Him, and when they, having just seen Him rise to His Father and His God, said of Him, “This same Jesus,” then we know by an infallible testimony that He was the same Jesus that died and rose from the dead, that He was the same Jesus the disciples had walked with and fellowshipped with. He is the same One that will come back.
What is the great take away of this description? Jesus is gone but He still exists. He has left this earth, but He is not dead; He has not dissolved into nothing like the mist of the morning. “This same Jesus” is gone up into Heaven, to be with His Father. He stands now on the right hand of the throne of God. This same Jesus, the One who hung on the cross, is the One who is in heaven now at the right hand of the Father. The Christ they spat upon is now the Christ whose name the cherubim and the seraphim are singing about both day and night.
The Great Truth
The Great Truth
This truth I speak of is not one that is to keep us gazing into heaven, but one that is to make each of us go to his house to do the work God has assigned to our hands. What is this Great Truth?
The truth the angels uttered is to let the disciples know where Jesus has gone. He did not just ascend into the cloud, He is gone into heaven. He is gone, but He is gone into that region of heaven where He can survey the battle that is taking place here on earth. He has gone up into heaven so that He can send help to us as we make our way through this valley. He has gone up into heaven where He robed Himself with His full glory, where He can send legions of angels to plow the road ahead of us, where He can influence men to rise up and champion His cause here on earth.
The truth the angels share with the disciples is that Jesus will come again. We can expect Him to return. He will not stay up in heaven and we stay down here on earth. Our Lord is preparing for His return and when He returns, we will be as a Bride adorned for her husband. He will return with a reward in His hand, to give to every man according to his works down here on earth.
He is coming again, in like manner as He departed. He will come in bodily form, but He will have a glorified body. When our Lord was taken up, they could see Him rise: He will come again just as He was taken up. Every eye shall see Him. He did not go up in spirit, but in person: He will come down in person. This same Jesus shall so come in like manner.” He will descend in clouds even as He went up in clouds; and “He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” even as He stood here before His ascent into heaven.
You and I have to be ready to meet Him when He comes again. It does not matter whether we are alive or dead; we must be ready to meet Him when He comes again.