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The Coming of the Son of Man

April 4th, 2016

Then they will see the son of Man coming in clouds with great power. He will send out the angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky. (Mark 13:26-27)

The Lord will return again. The same Jesus who was crucified rose again from the grave. The same Jesus who rose from the grave ascended into heaven. The same Jesus who ascended into heaven will return again to this earth in a majestic display of his power. He will return in glory, seen in the clouds.

The display of his power in the resurrection will also be displayed at his return. Just as his resurrection declared him with power to be the Son of God, so his return will reveal him with power to be the Son of God.

Taught for our Comfort: Chapter 13 of Mark, as with Matthew 24 and Luke 17:20-37 and 21:7-36, is a summary of the teachings of Christ on the end times. There have been numerous investigations, comparisons, and analyses of these passages. And not only these, but other passages from Scripture that speak of the end times, some of the main ones being: Daniel 9:20-27; Zechariah 14; Acts 3:18-21; Romans 11:1-32; 1 Corinthians 15:20-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17; and the entire book of The Revelation.

With no exception, the passages are given to us to comfort us about the final victory of Christ over all who oppose him. They also warn us to prepare ourselves, “For your Lord will come at a time you suspect not” (Matt. 24:44). It is strange to me that in the midst of the many different interpretations of these passages that we would miss their main messages to the church of each day.

Of the times, events, preceding events, outlay of schedule of great events, precise nature of the fulfillment of these prophesies, there is much debate. But there should be no disagreement whatsoever that Christ is returning, and that this means every believer should be comforted and encouraged, as well as awakened and challenged. So we are commanded to encourage one another with this doctrine of Christ’s return.

This teaching of Jesus as recorded in Mark 13, Matthew 24, and Luke 21:7-36, is also known as the Olivet Discourse, because it was given on the Mount of Olives (Mark 13:3).  He responded to the questions the disciples asked: “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” (Mark 13:4). There are four main divisions in his teaching:

Great Affliction Prophesied (Mark 13:5-13): Christ told of the pending destruction of the temple, “not one stone will be left on another” (Mark 13:2), which was fulfilled in 70 A.D. with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army. He likened the other problems that will come upon the world to “birth pains” that become increasingly stronger and closer together as the birth nears (13:8). The problems include: the rise of false “christs;” wars and rumors of wars, civil wars, the overthrowing of governments, earthquakes, and famines.

Both good and bad things will be experienced by Christians: Christ foretold the persecution of Jewish believers as well as their opportunities to testify about Christ before “governors and kings,” even to the point that the gospel will be proclaimed to all nations (ethne, or “ethnicities”). This was certainly partially fulfilled through Paul’s life. Families will be divided on the matter of the Christian faith, persecution will sometimes be very intense, but those who endure to the end will be saved (13:13). So there will be effectiveness in evangelistic efforts while there will also be persecution of believers.

The Great Tribulation Prophesied (Mark 13:14-23): When it appears that things could not get worse, they do indeed get worse. “The abomination that causes desolation,” mentioned in 13:14, is a reference to Daniel 9:27. Christ said, “Those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again” (Mark 13:19). On the interpretation of this verse there are different understandings. Was Christ speaking about the events that would fall upon Jerusalem in 70 A.D.? Or was he speaking about events still in the future beyond that date, that have to do with the final period of earth’s history before his return?

Prophecy is often revealed in segments – a partial fulfillment is given before the complete fulfillment. So, it would not be wrong to see in these words of Christ both the immediate prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem, and the ultimate destruction and tribulation period immediately before his return.

Demonic Impersonations (Mark 13:21-23): Christ taught that in these final days many will rise up to deceive others, able to perform signs and wonders. This seems to be connected to the statements in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 of the coming “Man of Lawlessness,” also called “the Antichrist.” “The coming of the lawless one is based on Satan’s working, with all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders, with every unrighteous deception among those who are perishing” (2 Thes. 2:9-10).

The Sudden Return of Christ (Mark 13:24-27): After the tribulation Christ will come. His coming will be visible, “They will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory” (13:26). He will also come with the elect that his angels will gather “from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens” (13:27). It is encouraging that when Christ returns the elect, or the believers, will return with him, whether living or already deceased:

For 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. After 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. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

So there is reason to be confident, comforted, and encouraged, that the Lord will watch over all those who are in the household of faith. The day will come when we will be with the Lord forever, when suffering and sorrow will end, when the curse of sin will be lifted, and where we shall enjoy his presence and will dwell in perfected love for all eternity.

So, be encouraged with the wonderful promise of our salvation.

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