Bible insights from your friends at La Jolla Lutheran Church
Come, Lord Jesus
Both before and after Jesus' resurrection, Jesus made several promises to the disciples.
He said he would send the Holy Spirit. (See Luke 24:49) He said he would always be with them. (See Matthew 28:20.) And he promised to return, saying that only God knew when that day would be. (See Matthew 26:64, and Matthew 24:3-31.)
Soon after Jesus' resurrection, the promises started to come true.
The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost, giving gifts and insight to the church.
With the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the disciples started learning what it was like to have Jesus be present in their hearts, even if he wasn't bodily present.
And many of the disciples eagerly looked for the fulfillment of the third promise: return of Jesus. Many expected it to happen within their lifetimes.
Jesus himself had said no one would know when that day would be. (Matthew 24:36). But he had also encouraged them to know what season they were in, and many thought the persecutions of the church surely indicated the last days were at hand.
A number of letters by Peter and Paul addressed the question of Jesus' return.
Peter wrote, "The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9).
Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4, "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died."
Similarly, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15, "Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."
If you know someone who is scoffing because it has been so long since the promise was first made, it might be helpful to read 2 Peter 3. God often makes promises far in advance, to let people know the hope that is coming.
But until Jesus returns, we have plenty of work to do, and lots of great adventures to share.
God, thank you for giving us so many great gifts. We praise you. Help us to be ready when Jesus returns. But in between now and then, help us to do all that we are called to do. Thank you. Amen.