The Lord in Glory (6)
If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! 1 Corinthians 16.22
And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely…He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.”
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22.17, 20
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3.2, 3
Jesus in His return
In every age, the saints of God have longed for the promised return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Like Paul and John, they have prayed that Jesus might come soon, come now, come in all His glory to illuminate every soul, living and dead, raise the justified to life, dispatch the unrepentant to their chosen eternal destiny, and remake heaven and earth into one glorious, sinless, blessed, eternal and righteous dwelling place for all who believe.
Everything about the return of our Lord Jesus is glorious; and every believer who longs for His coming has some sense or vision or image in mind of the cracking open of the heavens, the shout of the archangel, the resounding of the trumpet of God, and the sudden and radiant appearance of Jesus, “clothed with a robe dipped in blood”, brandishing the sharp Sword of the Spirit, and announcing Himself by the Name, King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19.13-16).
We pray with Horatio Spafford and the multitudes who have sung his great hymn of longing over the years,
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
We see Jesus in His return, and with Him, “the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean,” and following Jesus “on white horses” (Rev. 19.14). We see the graves opening, the dead rising, and the saints who have been sleeping in the earth ascending to meet and join the Lord in His return (1 Thess. 4.16, 17).
Seeing and longing
We see this, at least to some extent. But do we long for it? Do we pray earnestly for Jesus to return, and to come and take us unto Himself? It’s not likely that we long or will pray for Jesus to return, if we do not now see Him, with the eyes of our heart, in all His majestic splendor, glory, power, and beauty.
If we were more devoted to seeing Jesus as He was in His incarnation, and as He now is in His exaltation and reign; if the eyes of our heart were truly set for seeing into the heavenly realm and contemplating the unutterable beauty of the Lord Jesus; we would certainly be more eager for Him to come and make us just like He is (1 Jn. 3.1)
The early Church leader Origen (ca. 185-254) urged his readers to seek that heavenly vision, lest they desire more the things of the flesh than those of our returning King and Lord: “I think that heaven has been closed to those who are impious and who bear ‘the image of the earthly’, but opened to those who are just and who have been adorned with ‘the image of the heavenly.’ For the higher things have been closed to the impious, inasmuch as they are below and are still in the flesh. They cannot understand them or their beauty. They do not wish to perceive them, in that they are stooped over and do not devote themselves to lifting up their heads. But he opened the heavenly places with the key of David to be contemplated by the just, inasmuch as they have citizenship in heaven (Commentary on the Gospel of John 2.47-54).
Jesus has opened the heavenly places for all whose citizenship is in heaven, that we might consider Him and those “higher things” and learn to desire them above all else. Through His apostles, He commands us to set our minds there, take our seat there, “come up here” (Rev. 4.1), and see our lives and this world from the vantage point of the world to come. As Origen wrote, surely we would be less than pious and true followers of Jesus if we allowed our minds to be filled with images of earthly things rather than the higher and heavenly things that are shortly to be revealed in glory.
Are we “below” and “still in the flesh” that we find the prospect of considering Jesus in His glory to be unprofitable for us? And if we will not consider Him now, for love of other visions, what hope will we have when He comes storming through the clouds to gather all those who have longed for His coming to His eternal home in glory?
To see Him as He is
Our longing for Jesus to return, and the soul-strengthening hope and anticipation of unending joy that comes with that, can be daily enhanced by looking to see Jesus as He is. No, or course we can’t see Him perfectly. We see Him as He is revealed to the eyes of our heart in His Word and His world. We see Him by faith, faith which is daily exercised to consider Jesus and to meditate on His beauty.
But the day is coming when we will see Him face to face, as He is in all His beauty; and the excitement and uninterrupted blessedness and delight of that day can be experienced here and now, if we will consider Jesus, look to Him, set our minds on Him, and set Him always before as He was and is and is to come.
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
1. As you think of Jesus coming again, what is the most thrilling aspect of that vision?
2. Do you think if you spent more time considering Jesus you might look forward with greater hope and anticipation to His coming again? Explain.
3. What will you do today to set the Lord always before you?
Next steps – Transformation: Pray through your vision of the coming of the Lord – everything you think of or “see” as you consider Jesus in His return. Give Him praise and call upon Him to come soon.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.