|A reproduction of Lorenzo Lotto's oil-on-wood|
painting of "Christi Geburt" or "Birth of Jesus."
Two of the greatest and most important events in human history center on the person of Jesus Christ. Without His birth 2,000 years ago and then His death and resurrection, His return would not be possible.
We know that Jesus’ birth occurred under the radar. With no fanfare, the coming of the King was about as low key as it gets. Only a few shepherds knew of His birth. When they went to find Him, they discovered a baby lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling cloths. Those are humble beginnings for the Son of God!
His return, however, will be unlike His humble beginning; it will be spectacular and amazing!
Now, there are many schools of thought about the return of Christ. Clergy and theologians have debated them for centuries. Many have predicted Jesus’ return—even just 20 years after His death and resurrection—though scripture tells us not to do so. What the Bible does tell us is that Jesus will someday return to earth. For now, we live in between His first and second comings.
Two millennia ago, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica, addressing false reports that said Jesus had come and gone (2 Thessalonians 2: 1-2). No, Jesus had not come back, and, no, he has not left His followers behind. Paul explained what events would happen before Jesus’ return so that His followers need not live in a state of perpetual uncertainty (verses 3-4).
What strikes me about this passage is the expectancy of the coming of the Lord these Christians had. There was a great expectation of His return, and the persecution Jesus’ followers underwent at the time fueled it.
Ultimately, these believers did not want to miss Christ’s return.
This Christmas, as we look back at the wonderful gift God has given us, let us also look forward to His promised return. When He does come back to earth, He will answer the cry of the martyrs. Revelation 6:10 reads, “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth’" (NKJV)?
Until then the truth of His spectacular return that gave hope to the first-century Christians also gives our brothers and sisters around the world hope and comfort, as they suffer for the one born two centuries ago!