Ends and Returns

Psalm 126; Acts 1:3–11; Revelation 1:4–18 (read online ⧉)

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
From the Apostle’s Creed

“You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines,s and earthquakes in various places. All these events are the beginning of labor pains.”
Matthew 24:6–8

In the current COVID situation, life is a mess. It feels like an understatement, doesn’t it? A mess seems such a placid way to describe it. As usual, there are plenty of politicians, rabble-rousers, and religiousesque folks that are stirring up emotions in people. There are those that are convinced that this is a government (US, state, China, UN, etc.) conspiracy. There are those convinced this is Mother Earth getting her revenge. There are those that are convinced that this is the wrath of God.

The real answer? The only answer? COVID is proof that the world is a fallen world, separated from God. Sadly, that is often not an acceptable answer, even by those that call themselves Christian. We want answers. We want reasons and even responses that we can hold onto. Life is often not that way.

Jesus warned his followers that there would always people stirring things up. These people would use even rumors to influence, guide, and even gain power. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

There is a hope that this will end. Jesus will come back. That is the hope. Even that hope, however, is often used to manipulate people.

The angels told the disciples that Jesus would return the same way he left. The disciples probably still hadn’t recovered from their emotional valleys and mountains. Yet this was a hope they would rely on. John made it clear that he, even in his exile on the Isle of Patmos, was still hopeful and expectant that Jesus would return. John, by this point, had outlived all the other disciples, and knew many who had been martyred. He still held onto hope. By this point, it was likely that he no longer expected Jesus to return in his lifetime, but that didn’t change that he knew the person (Jesus) and trusted him regardless.

Jesus, Savior of the World, Savior of my soul, I give you thanks for the promise given to me through your disciples. May we be inspired and driven by your example to be ever better versions of ourselves, and looking toward our final unification with you, whether you return, or I go. Amen.

1) Which do you think is better, Jesus returning now, or Jesus returning later? Why?

2) If you had witnessed Jesus’ ascension, and heard the angels’ words, what would your response have been?

3) Why do end times always attract our interest?