“At 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. And 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………I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Matthew 24:30-31, 34-35)
There is a perspective of Christmas that may well precipitate a great let-down after the holiday is past. When all the focus is upon the buying and giving of gifts, being with family and friends, putting up and enjoying Christmas tree and decorations, singing and listening to carols, all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes that remind us of this special season; when it is abruptly past how do we feel? What does this say to our carrying the message of Advent into and throughout the New Year? The Bible’s perspective is never like this. The Bible speaks nearly always about Advent in its twin phases; like two mountain peaks, one behind the other that appear in our perspective to be right up against one another, when in reality there is a great plain that lies between them. But the great plain is not important, the nearness of the two peaks is. When biblically aware Christians celebrate the first Advent, the birth of Christ, they anticipate all the more the Second Advent, the return of their Lord.
Jesus saw it no differently even at the young human age of his early 30’s. From His perspective His return was near. In the same passages where He spoke of its nearness, He also said that no one knows the time of His return, not even Himself, only the Father in Heaven. So what did Jesus mean when after events are described in Matthew 24 leading up to and including His return, He says that all this will happen before this generation passes away? Some feel that the word “generation can be translated “race, speaking of the Jewish people; they will not pass away as a race until all these things have happened including the Lord’s return. That may well be the correct translation, yet the nearness of Christ’s return was not only His words, but is the message of the Bible: “Behold I am coming soon, “The Judge is at the door, “For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay, You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
This is exactly the perspective that Jesus desires you to have, whatever your generation. It is not untrue nor without essential spiritual power to every believer even though 2000 years have passed from when Jesus spoke those words. C.S. Lewis captures beautifully the meaning of this in his article “The World’s Last Night: “The doctrine of the Second Coming teaches us that we do not and cannot know when the world drama will end. The curtain may be rung down at any moment: say before you have finished reading this paragraph. This seems to some people intolerably frustrating. So many things would be interrupted. Perhaps you were going to get married next month, perhaps you were going to get a raise next week; you may be on the verge of a great scientific discovery; you may be maturing great social and political reforms. Surely no good and wise God would be so unreasonable as to cut all this short? Not now of all moments!. . .The doctrine of the Second Coming, then, is not to be rejected because it conflicts with our favorite modern mythology. It is, for that very reason, to be more valued and made more frequently the subject of meditation. It is the medicine our condition especially needs. What death is to each man, the Second Coming is to the whole human race. We all believe, I suppose, that man should “sit loose to his own individual life, should remember how short, how precariously, temporary, and provisional a thing it is; should never give all his heart to anything which will end when his life ends.
The passing of Christmas 2010 means for believers that the Second Coming is nearer and is near. In the truest perspective “the Judge is at the door, our Bridegroom is on his way, and our life in 2011 should reflect our meditation on that glorious truth. If in the New Year “the curtain rings down on you individually or on the entire world, will you be prepared to go out to meet Him?
“Rejoice all you believers, and let your lights appear; the evening is advancing, and darker night is near: the Bridegroom is arising, and soon He draweth nigh; up pray, and watch, and wrestle; at midnight comes the cry.
(1st verse of Laurentius Laurenti’s hymn, “Rejoice All Ye Believers, 1700)
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