The First and Second Coming

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Jesus, quoted in Matthew 11:27, NIV)

Jesus is just as righteous as the Father.  There is no difference in their righteousness, justice, purity, goodness, or holiness.  But Jesus chose to come as a human to and for us, by leaving His glory in Heaven.  He did not become less good, but less glorious—for a short time.

After His resurrection, however, though He is still in a human body, the Father gave His glory back to Him (see John 17:1, 5).  He will appear very different in His Second Coming than in His first!

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.  (Jesus, quoted in John 17:1b-5, NIV)

In His first coming, He left His glory behind.  I think this is how He was able to be among sinful humans who would otherwise die if they saw His face (see Exodus 33:20).  He was able to become one of us, and partake in our world, because He became human.  Also, there was nothing unusually striking about His appearance (see Isaiah 53:2).  He is not described as having been handsome, but rather as ordinary or un-handsome (from Isaiah 53:2).

My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. (Isaiah 53:2, NLT)

This bears a pause.  Even though Jesus gave up His majesty, did He have to give up His beauty (from Isaiah 53:2)?  Certainly a clear message is written here to those who base friendship or even subtle preferences over those who have a striking outward appearance.  Although we go on searches for beautiful people to model for advertisements and to pattern our wardrobe after, God Himself chose to come without particular handsomeness.  The way the verse is written, He may even have been considered plain or homely.  Those who do not feel they have outward beauty in this life will do well to remember they have been patterned after the Son of God’s appearance when He came!

In the second coming, Jesus will have His full glory and beauty, and all who don’t know Him will be so frightened they will wish mountains would fall upon them.

People will beg the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and plead with the hills, ‘Bury us.’ (Luke 23:30, NLT)

They will not be able to repent, because the opportunity for that was in Jesus’ First Coming.  But they will be able to worship—and they will.  Everyone will worship God when He comes again.

By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. (Isaiah 45:23, NIV)

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'” (Romans 4:11, NIV)

There is an African folktale in which two beautiful sisters are summoned to a great banquet, where the king will choose his bride.  One of the women is beautiful-hearted.  Her dearest friend is a small garden snake.  She tells her secrets to him and sings to him.  The other sister is bitter-hearted.  She constantly taunts her sister behind her back when no one is present (but the little garden snake).

The evil sister rushes to be first at the king’s throne.  When she arrives, she finds not the mighty, handsome king she’d imagined but a fierce, three-headed serpent.  She’s frightened and runs out of his presence before she is destroyed.

The second sister arrives with shyness to meet the king and surprise at her sister’s warning that a terrible monster is in the palace.  She enters to see for herself, and who is on the throne but the little garden snake?  Before her eyes, the snake transforms into the mighty, handsome king.  He knew all about the two sisters; he had already become a close friend of his bride and she didn’t even know it!

Although an imperfect tale, this story helps picture what it will be like on the Day of Judgment.  Right now, we have the opportunity to receive Christ as the humble God who came to earth to walk the dusty roads on sandaled feet, touch the eyes of the blind with fingers calloused from carpentry, and submit Himself to suffer the physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences of our sin on a splintery cross.  But one day, He will be revealed as who He is: the I-AM.  There will be no doubt in anyone’s mind.

Those who have loved Him, who have believed in Him for salvation, will see Him as the dear friend they have grown to love with their whole heart, and also as the mighty and awesome King of Kings.

Those who have not loved Him, who have not truly believed in Him for salvation, will see Him as the terrible Judge they have grown to fear with their whole heart, and also as the mighty and awesome King of Kings.

The choice is before us . . will you know Him from the First Coming . . or will you wait to behold Him at His Second Coming?

I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.  (Jesus, Revelation 1:18, NIV)

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