CHRISTIAN LIVING 21C
He wasn’t just leaving them. He was going to a specific place for a particular purpose with a definite promise to return.
The announcement came during the celebration of Passover with the disciples just prior to His crucifixion. Jesus revealed,
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Naturally, they were distraught. They believed Jesus would usher in the Messianic Kingdom. Now, He was telling them He was going away?
TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU
Our Lord conveyed the certainty of His promised return and the associated expectancy using the imagery of a first century Jewish wedding.
After paying the mohar (dowry) and establishing a marriage covenant with his future father-in-law, a groom would return to his own father’s house to prepare an addition where he and his bride would live. Finishing the apartment and allowing time for his fiancé to prepare for married life, the groom then traveled back to her family’s house announcing his arrival with a shout. His voice signaled the bride to immediately rush out to meet him and join the procession to their new home and the marriage feast.
The cultural analogy—of a groom returning for his bride—would have been obvious to the disciples. Today, even though Christians don’t necessarily make the association, the apostle Paul connects the dots for us,
“[Christ] loved the church and gave Himself for her…that He might present her to Himself a glorious church” (Eph. 5:25-27).
Looking into the future, John saw the announcement of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and recorded,
“the Lamb [Christ] has come, and His wife [the church] has made herself ready… arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright (Rev. 19:7-8). (1)
I WILL COME AGAIN
TO RECEIVE YOU UNTO MYSELF
Jesus’ stated purpose for going back to heaven was to prepare a place for His bride (the church) in His Father’s house.
The clause, “And if I go and prepare a place for you,” conditionally links Jesus’ departure with His return (John 14:3).
The Greek word translated “I will come” is actually in the present tense and literally means “I come.” Some translate the Greek more emphatically as “I do come” drawing attention to the imminent nature of His return. By using the present tense, Jesus not only underscored the certainty of His return, but emphasized His disciples should expect the Rapture.
Paul told the Philippians,
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20).
[B]e patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (Js. 5:8).
“. . . abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 Jn. 2:28).
Both Paul and John use the word “we” to express their expectancy that Jesus Christ could return during their lifetime.
Paul encouraged Titus to be,
”looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Ti. 2:13).
Paul also commended the church at Thessalonica for their expectant attitude of waiting,
“. . . for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Th. 1:10).
From these Bible passages, it is evident Jesus’ announcement speaks of an exclusive event. For people of biblical faith, the “Blessed Hope” is more than a theological concept; it’s an imminent event we can and should expect.
That it’s been more than 2,000 years since Jesus’ ascension into heaven in no way diminishes the certainty of His coming. At the sound of His voice, Christians who have already died will instantaneously rise from the grave to meet the Lord in the air immediately followed by those who are alive:
“[W]e shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:52).
Throughout church history, Christians have looked forward to their meeting in the air with the Lord Jesus Christ. We may well be the generation to hear His shout, the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God. Each day brings us closer to the eventuality of His promised return.
The early church was so convinced of the Lord’s return they greeted one another with “Maranatha” (Greek: “our Lord come”) (1 Cor. 16:22). Now more than ever, Maranatha should be the greeting of every biblically authentic Christian.
Maranatha—our Lord come!
1) On Pentecost, ten days after Jesus ascension, the disciples became the first members of the New Testament church, also known as the bride of Christ (Acts 2:3-4).
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. With 40 plus years of ministry experience, Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added.)
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