In just a few short days Pope Francis will begin his Papal visit here in our nation and in our city. His arrival will be accompanied with much fanfare and with great anticipation. The faithful will gather around him, the media will televise him and the politicians will swoon before him. Everything he says and does will be proclaimed nationwide via traditional and social media. The coverage will be unending, the hype will unbelievable and the traffic will be unbearable. And then he will be gone and nothing will really change.
It’s not the Pope’s fault, he’s just a man. Like other men he is a sinner in need of a Savior who sees through a glass darkly. We should respect his position as a world leader but recognize that he is flawed and finite. We should pray for his safety. We should cheer his morality but we should confront his teachings when they conflict with the Scriptures, the written revelation of God and the measure of truth. That is the job of God’s Church, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
Beyond that I think the visit of the Pope challenges those of us who claim Christ as Savior. Simply stated, the coming of the Pope is a more spoken about event then the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Why is that? Is it because God’s people no longer publically, faithfully and boldly proclaim His Second Coming?
During His ministry here on earth the gospel accounts record Jesus Christ speaking often about His Second Coming (See Mark 8:38 and Matthew 16:27). During the last week of His life He shared an extended discourse about His return and the events surrounding it (Matthew 24-25). On His last night with His Disciples he promised that “I will come again to receive you unto myself that were I am you will be also (John 14:3). As He ascended some forty days after His resurrection an angel promised that “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11b). His Second Coming was part of the preaching of the evangelistic messages in Acts as His Church went out to spread the good news. (Acts 3:20-21 and 17:31).
In addition to the record in the Gospels and Acts almost every other New Testament Book speaks of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Below is just a sampling:
Romans – Eagerly awaiting the redemption of our bodies – Romans 8:23
1 Corinthians – “Maranatha” – 1 Corinthians 16:22
2 Corinthians – Raised up with Jesus – 2 Corinthians 4:14
Galatians – We wait for the hope of righteousness – Galatians 5:5
Ephesians – Sealed by the Spirit unto the Day of Redemption – Ephesians 4:30
Philippians – Citizenship is of heaven, looking for His coming – Philippians 3:20
Colossians – Christ who is our life shall appear – Colossians 3:4
1 Thessalonians – The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven – 1 Thessalonians 4:16
2 Thessalonians – Coming of our Lord Jesus – 2 Thessalonians 2:2
1 Timothy – The Lord Jesus’ appearing – 1 Timothy 6:14
2 Timothy – Love His appearing – 2 Timothy 4:8
Titus – The blessed hope – Titus 2:13
Hebrews – Gather together as you see the day approaching – Hebrews 10:25
James – The coming of the Lord is at hand – James 5:8
1 Peter – The Chief Shepherd shall appear – 1 Peter 5:4
2 Peter – Mockers ask where is the promise of His Coming? – 2 Peter 3:4
1 John – We shall be like Him when He appears – 1 John 3:1-2
Jude – The Lord is coming to execute judgement – Jude 14
Revelation – Come Lord Jesus – Revelation 22:20
Clearly both the Lord and His first followers made it a point to emphasize that Jesus Christ was coming again. The promise that Jesus Christ is coming again is not a truth made to be kept secret by the Church. It is an essential part of our message. It is a major tenant of our hope. It is to be spoken aloud –not whispered in secret. It is to be shared, not hoarded. It will be unimaginable, unprecedented, and unmatched. Let’s not be ashamed of it. Let’s pray for it and proclaim it. Like the Early Church may we publically, faithfully and boldly preach Jesus Christ crucified, raised and coming again.
Pastor Dave Watson