There is a rumor going around that the big day is just a few days away. I have been listening closely over the past several weeks and the rumors have grown louder and louder. It all started before Thanksgiving as I watched the folks on television begin to announce the countdown to the big day. With each passing day more and more voices have joined the choir announcing the coming day with joy and expectation.
The time at hand is reminiscent of a time long ago when cities would prepare for the coming of a respected king. The roads would be cleared, the streets cleaned, the city scrubbed from head to toe in expectation of the coming of the most exalted and honored of all – the king.
I wasn’t present for one of those majestic arrivals in years past, but I’ve been noticing that the preparations for an anticipated arrival have been building as of late. I am getting more and more excited as I observe the sights going on around me. I’ve seen thousands upon thousands scurrying about trying to prepare for His coming. Banners have been put up on city streets marking the path of His arrival. Music is wafting through the air creating an ambiance of expectation for His big day. Adults have taken time from their busy schedules to frequent stores whose doors they have not darkened since the last time it is was foretold that He was on his way. Children have been busy baking cookies with their mothers and preparing their homes in hopes that maybe He will show up at their door.
His upcoming arrival is big folks! I’ve learned that this is not just a city-wide event. It is not just a celebration that is going to happen in the United States of America. I’ve been reading newspapers on the internet from France, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and Ireland; and I’ve found that they are preparing for His coming as well.
With all of the excitement in the air I wanted to find out more about his coming, I wanted to know where it was going to happen, when it would take place, how He was going to get here, and where He was coming from. I went to the newsstand to see if I could find any books or magazines that might assist me in gaining more insight about the nature of His arrival. After weeks of pouring over page after page, of devouring volume after volume, and of studiously examining all of the facts concerning His arrival I have come to the conclusion that He is indeed coming! He is coming to town! Boys and girls take heart, this will not be a Christmas in which you are disappointed! Moms and dads cheer up, this will not be a Christmas in which you wonder if Christmas will come…He is coming to town!
There are a couple of things about His coming that I had heard in the past, but which I questioned as to whether or not they could be true. I have found that they are more than true, they are assured! Stories have circulated in the past that He comes from high in the sky and that He brings good gifts. I learned that He will do precisely what has been reported – He is coming with the clouds and bringing good gifts to all of His people. There was one item that I discovered that has no basis in fact, but the fact is better than the purported story which has gone around. It was said in the past that He brings good gifts to those who are good. You know the line, “He knows if you’ve been good or bad, so be good for goodness’ sake.” Well, the fact of the matter is that being good has nothing to do with whether or not you and I will receive gifts from the One who is coming. The gifts are given of His grace, of His choosing, to those who are willing to receive. Oh, I’m getting more and more excited as the time of His arrival draws near, and I’ve come today to tell you to make plans, prepare your hearts, your minds, your soul – Jesus is coming to town!
I know you might have been expecting someone else, but you need to know that Jesus is coming to town. Before my children get all flustered, I’m sure Santa will make his rounds this Christmas Eve and all of the boys and girls will get presents to play with on Christmas morn. The One I am looking for isn’t coming from the North Pole, He is coming from Heaven! He won’t be riding eight tiny reindeer; He will be riding the clouds!
This morning I want us to take a look at the One who is coming to town and I want us to come to understand the aspects of His coming which sets Him apart from any other who may be on their way. To get us started I want to share with you from God’s Word concerning Jesus’ coming.
I found the writings of a wise man that lived long ago. Daniel was a man devoted to serving the Lord. It appears that he was more than creditable because every time the king had a vision from God, Daniel was called upon to interpret the dream. Daniel was lying on his bed one night when he had an awesome vision from God. Daniel wrote about the vision in the seventh chapter of his book. Take a look.
13In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of Heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14 NIV)
Daniel saw the Son of Man coming with the clouds of Heaven and as He came the entire world worshipped Him!
Secondly, I would like for us to take a look at what the Apostle Paul wrote in the very first letter he ever authored, the letter to the Church in Thessalonica. Paul writes,
16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-5:2 NIV)
Jesus isn’t sending an ambassador – He is coming Himself! He is on His way folks and we need to be ready for His arrival.
I want to take the time this morning to seriously consider the coming of Jesus and the importance of having our hearts prepared for His coming. We need to be excited about the coming of Jesus because His arrival will be more than we can ever dream, more than we could ever hope for, and more than any person can even begin to describe. We need to possess the same enthusiasm and expectation that we see etched on the faces of the little children who are making “Wish Lists,” looking forward to Christmas morn, and counting down the days with little calendars.
Isn’t it fun to watch the excitement grow on the faces of our children as Christmas Day approaches? With each passing day the grins grow, the adrenaline level rises, and the expectation bursts forth from every pore. We should be even more excited! Children are excited about the coming a round man in a red suit with toys tucked under his arm. You and I can be excited about the coming of our King dressed in all of His radiance and riding the clouds of heaven.
Do you realize that we are commanded to look forward to the coming of Jesus? In 2 Peter 3:11-12, Peter asks a question of the people, “What kind of people should you be?” Peter, the consummate preacher answers his own question by saying, “You should live holy lives and serve God, as you wait for and look forward to the coming of the day of God.”
That childlike enthusiasm and excitement was certainly a driving force for the early believers. I was reading the Book of Revelation just this past week when I stumbled on the last verses of the last chapter of the entire book. John writes, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20 NIV) Isn’t that beautiful?! John hears Jesus say, “I am coming soon” and John says, “All right, come on Jesus!” That should be our attitude as well as we await with expectation the coming of Jesus to take us home.
You may say, “OK, I’m convinced. I will look forward to the coming of Jesus, but how will He come, when will He come, and why is He coming back anyway?” You ask such good questions!
How will Jesus return? Will He return as the seventh incarnation of the Buddha or as some mystical force to be called upon by those like Luke Skywalker who are looking for “The Force?” The Bible says quite clearly how Jesus will return. Jesus Himself spoke about the subject when He said,
30At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:30-31 NIV)
Jesus said He will come with the clouds with power and great glory! What is interesting is that Jesus says He will come with power. I’ve got news for you, the baby in the manger grew up and today He possesses all power! We can deal with gentle Jesus meek and mild and lying in a manger, but we will not be able to comprehend the awesome power with which Jesus will return. The Greek word for “power,” is the word from which we get our word, “dynamite.” The word is used twice in the Gospels by Jesus as a synonym for God (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62). Jesus is coming with the clouds and as He comes He will come with the full power of Almighty God.
Hopefully we’ve settled how Jesus will come, but what about when Jesus will come. This poses a major problem for us since we are people who like to be prepared. Most folks will be prepared for Christmas morning because we have a dead-line to work with. We all know that if we don’t have our presents bought by Christmas Day that we will let some folks down. The problem we have when we look at the coming of Jesus is that we do not know when He will return, we only know that He is coming.
Jesus said of His coming in Matthew 24,
37As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42″Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:37-44 NIV)
Jesus says when you least expect Him, expect Him. What time would that be for you? Just after you’ve finished all of the hard work of gathering your Christmas gifts for those you love? I can hear it now, “Lord, it’s good of you to come, but you’re timing leaves much to be desired.” Would it be when you hang up the phone after talking to Toys R’ Us and learn that they have just received the Cabbage Patch Doll or Tickle Me Elmo you’ve been praying for? Would it be January 2 when the really big bowl games are just getting cranked up? Whenever you least expect Him, expect Him!
Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2, 1″Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 NIV) Paul encourages us to avoid setting dates and getting all wrapped up in thinking we know when Jesus will return because His return will be like a thief in the night.
We have looked at how Jesus will return, when Jesus will return, and now I want us to look at “why” Jesus is coming back. There are really two different reasons why Jesus is coming back. First of all, Jesus is coming back for me and you. Isn’t that awesome!? To think that the God of all creation would love us so much that He would come for us so that we could spend eternity before His glorious presence is too much to drink in. When Jesus was getting ready to go to the cross He told His disciples,
1Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going. (John 14:1-4 NIV)
There is a second reason why Jesus is returning which we certainly don’t want to miss. Jesus came the first time as a servant, a sacrifice for our sins. He was beaten and rejected by those He came to save from their sins. Jesus is coming back, but this time He will not come as a sacrifice or servant, but He will come in all of His glory to rule and reign as the exalted King of all creation. John wrote in Revelation,
15The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” 16And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshipped God, 17saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. (Revelation 11:15-17 NIV)
Give thanks to Almighty God, the One who is and who was, because He will take His great power and begin to reign. You can look around you today and see that what is promised is not what is. In that day when Jesus returns the Lion will lie down with the Lamb, nation will no longer wage war against nation, there will be no more death, or mourning, or pain, or sorrow – Jesus will rule and reign triumphant!
He is coming to town! I hope you have gotten the message this morning. We are talking about Jesus today. We’re not talking about Mohammed, Buddha, Mahareshi Yogi, or anyone else for that matter – we’re talking about Jesus and He is coming to town. God has exalted Jesus’ name above every other name, and every knee will bow before Him and acknowledge what I have just shared with you – Jesus is the exalted Messiah and King! Paul wrote in Philippians 2,
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV)
This morning we have looked at the “how” of Jesus’ coming, we have looked at the “when” of Jesus’ coming, and we’ve looked at the “why” of Jesus’ coming. There is one more thing I want to share with you before we conclude our study. Jesus brings good gifts to His people. I am excited for you this Christmas because many of you will get what you want. You may want a Tickle Me Elmo, X Box, or MP3 player, but I will assure you one thing, whatever you get it is going to wear out. Now it may wear out because you use it so much or it may wear out because you get bored with it and never pick it up, but I will assure you that everything you get this Christmas is going to wear out.
When Jesus gives gifts they never wear out. He has come to give us eternal life, the privilege of sharing in eternity before His glorious throne for all time. James wrote about this in James 1:17-18.
17Every good action and every perfect gift is from God. These good gifts come down from the Creator of the sun, moon, and stars, who does not change like their shifting shadows. 18God decided to give us life through the word of truth so we might be the most important of all the things he made. (James 1:17-18 NCV)
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited that He is coming to town. I don’t know the hour or the day, I don’t know much period, but there is one thing I know – He is coming to town! He is coming back for those who have received Him as King and Lord of their life and when He comes back there will be no mistaking Him. He won’t be riding on a sleigh with eight tiny reindeer, He will be riding the clouds of Heaven and His radiance will flood the universe.
Where is your excitement level this Christmas? Are you overburdened by your list of things “to do” which seems twice as long as your children’s “wish list?” Are you excited about seeing what you will find under the tree on Christmas morning? Are you excited to see family and friends that you haven’t seen in some time? Are you excited because He is coming to town? I hope we will all be ready.