THE COMING OF THE KING
Matt. 24:3; Matt. 24:14; Matt. 24:27-28
His disciples came to him privately, when he was sitting on the Mount of Olives. “Tell us,” they said, “when these things shall be. And tell us what will be the sign of your coming, and of the consummation of the age.”
“The gospel will be proclaimed to the whole inhabited world, for a testimony to all nations–and then the end will come.
“For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so shall be the coming of the Son of Man. Where the body is, there the vultures will be gathered together.”
Here Jesus speaks of his Second Coming directly. The New Testament does not ever use the phrase the Second Coming. The word which it uses to describe the return of Christ in glory is interesting. It is Parousia; this word has come into English as a description of the Second Coming; it is quite common in the rest of the New Testament, but in the gospels this is the only chapter in which it occurs (Matt. 24:3, Matt. 24:27, Matt. 24:37,39). The interesting thing is that it is the regular word for the arrival of a governor into his province or for the coming of a king to his subjects. It regularly describes a coming in authority and in power.
The remainder of this chapter will have much to tell us about it, but at the moment we note that, whatever else is true about the doctrine of the Second Coming, it certainly conserves two great facts.
(i) It conserves the fact of the ultimate triumph of Christ. He whom men crucified on a cross will one day be the Lord of all men. For Jesus Christ the end is sure–and that end is his universal kingship.
(ii) It conserves the fact that history is going somewhere. Sometimes men have felt that history was plunging to an ever wilder and wilder chaos, that it is nothing more than “the record of the sins and follies of men.” Sometimes men have felt that history was cyclic and that the same weary round of things would happen over and over again. The Stoics believed that there are certain fixed periods, that at the end of each the world is destroyed in a great conflagration; and that then the same story in every littlest detail takes place all over again.
As Chrysippus had it: “Then again the world is restored anew in a precisely similar arrangement as before. The stars again move in their orbits, each performing its revolution in the former period, without any variation. Socrates and Plato and each individual man will live again, with the same friends and fellow-citizens. They will go through the same experiences and the same activities. Every city and village and field will be restored, just as it was. And this restoration of the universe takes place, not once, but over and over again–indeed to all eternity, without end.” This is a grim thought that men are bound to an eternal tread-mill in which there is no progress and from which there is no escape.
But the Second Coming has in it this essential truth–that there is “one divine far-off event, to which the whole creation moves,” and that event is not dissolution but the universal and eternal rule of God.
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