The Aramaic word ‘maranatha’ occurs only once in the Bible. The Greek version, ‘parousia’ means ‘coming’ or ‘presence,’ In Biblical times it refers to the coming of Jesus, His Advent. ‘If anyone has no love for the lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come’ (1 Corinthians 16:22) Maranatha should mean the same for us as the original citizens in the first century A.D. Revelation 22:20 and the two letters of Thessalonians both refer to the second coming of the Lord. There are 260 chapters in the New Testament which refer to the Second Coming, and 380 references to the Lord coming again.
We can be certain Jesus will come again.
This morning, we will look at what Jesus says about His return.
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near’ (Luke 21:28).
‘When these things begin to happen.’
Note the emphasis in the previous verse, ‘Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory’ (Luke 21:27). There is a contrast to verse 8, ‘And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them’ (Luke 21:8). It is clear that when someone has to tell us he is the Messiah, clearly he is not! Everyone will see the Messiah return. ‘Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen (Revelation 1:7).
Every day we are alive on earth brings us a day closer to Jesus’ return. As believers, we can look forward to this.
It seems simple enough but it is something we struggle with. Something happens to us and our initial reaction is to look around for solutions when we should look up! We should pray without ceasing, live our lives in a prayerful fashion. It should impact how we live our lives. Jesus is encouraging us to keep our eyes on God. It we retain focus on Him, He will do great things in our lives. Our Lord’s return needs to sustain us in our present circumstances. We need to be faithful to the Lord to the very end.
There have been many in the past and today, who have considered the coming of Jesus to be imminent. Rather, what we should do is live with the thought that the coming of Jesus may be imminent. Jesus tells us these things because they are to have a bearing on our present activity. Look up and be prepared.
‘Lift up your heads.’
This is not quite the same as just looking up. Christ does not want us to be inactive as we wait for His second coming. We often face spiritual battles. Ephesians speaks of the armour of God with good reason. God provides us with spiritual armour. He is not only in the front-line with us. To take up the armour of God is to identify with Jesus. To be called a Christian is to accept we will be identified with Christ. Many will seek to persecute us.
Our human nature wants to obtain our own salvation, but salvation only happens when we yield to Christ. It is nothing of ourselves. We should be unashamed of the gospel. We are to stand on the truth and for the truth. Jesus declares persecution will turn out as an occasion for testimony (Luke 21:13).
Another aspect to lifting our heads is our need to be aware of what is happening around us, lest we be taken by the wiles of Satan. We need to search the scriptures daily. Look up to God and His Word, lift up our heads, God has work for us to do.
‘Because your redemption draws near.’
Jesus clearly speaks to believers. While Jesus has already paid the price of our sins and redeemed us, in order to be fit for heaven we need to be more like Jesus. ‘For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself’ (Philippians 20-21). Be expectant for the Lord’s return. We are free of the power of sin. On that day, when we are finally transformed, we will know we are beyond all sin.
Watch and pray (Luke 21:36). Look forward to that great day. We have a general concern for those who don’t yet believe, and also a specific concern for close family and friends who are not Christians. If they remain in that state they will truly know what fear is when Jesus returns (Luke 21:26). This is the end for those who do not believe in God. Yet contrast this with believers who are to watch and pray always, looking up to God.
We are also to look forward to His coming. In this way we will be counted worthy because Jesus has clothes us with righteousness (Luke 21:36). It will be a great day, redemption completed!