Are You Eagerly Awaiting The Return Of Jesus?
In Matthew 2:3, the NIV and NASB translations of the Bible state that both King Herod and all Jerusalem were troubled at the news that the Messiah had just been born in the last year or two…Other translations use the word terrified (The Message), deeply disturbed (New Living Translation), and worried (Contemporary English Version).
Now why would the teachers of the Law, scribes, and citizens of Jerusalem be troubled that the Messiah had been born, considering their knowledge of the numerous Old Testament prophecies regarding the fulfillment of promise and blessing that the Messiah would bring to Israel?…Why would they, while living under oppressive Roman rule, be disturbed at the possible fulfillment of promises made over 1,000 years before?
Why was there no joy at the Messiah’s arrival,
and why did concern, worry, and distress replace that joy?…
My guess is that despite being under the rule of Rome, the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem around 2 B.C. were enjoying a bit of a healthy relationship with Rome and were comfortable in their practice of Judaism…They still had the Temple, as well as some freedom to practice their faith. They were, it seems, more attached to the earthly blessings of God—influence, power amongst their own people, and a bit of lenient autonomy—than to the Person of God. Perhaps they were comfortable with the culture around them, cozying up to it and not wanting to disrupt the status quo…
In short, the Jerusalem Jews had no joy—
and instead had anger and concern—
regarding the arrival of the Messiah because:
- they had stopped waiting expectantly for Him and
- they were concerned over what they would lose at His appearance…
Contrast this with the description in Luke of Simeon and Anna, who were joyful at the Messiah’s arrival:
“[Simeon] was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel” (Luke 2:25 NLT).
“[Anna] talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38 NLT).
-How many Christians today don’t get excited over the impending nature of Jesus’ return?…
-How many of us aren’t looking forward to His return because we are so busy
with our daily affairs and so attached to our current life, all of its details & our earthly dreams?
-How many of us would be distressed at Christ’s return because of what we would lose?…
The writer of Hebrews states that Jesus is returning to bring
salvation (freedom, forgiveness, and forever) to
“those who eagerly await Him”
(Hebrews 9:28 NASB).
If we aren’t eagerly awaiting Him,
if we aren’t living in such a way that we are uncomfortable with the wicked aspects of this world
(and the wickedness inside ourselves!,
if we aren’t excited over the blessings we’ll receive when Jesus does return
(most notably seeing His face and worshiping Him face-to-face!),
will we respond to His return as the Jerusalem Jews did upon Jesus’ first arrival?
How can we be like Simeon and Anna?…
1. First, let us ask God to help us hunger, thirst, and desire for His return.
Wine connoisseurs have told me in the past about the extravagantly flavorful nuances of one particular wine over another. I don’t really enjoy the taste of any wine, and so when I have tasted expensive wines, I recoil from the taste. Wine lovers respond by saying that I need to develop a taste for wine, that I need to get my palette used to wine and over time I will learn to appreciate and enjoy it (the same case can be made for seafood! 🙂 ).
Isn’t this also true with Jesus?
Since we are conceived and born sinful & spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-5, Psalm 51:5, 1 Corinthians 2:14), He and His pure goodness are an acquired taste, not something we are attracted to on our own naturally. So let us repent to Him that we desire things of this world more than Him; let us ask Him, cry out to Him, to resurrect and rekindle our taste buds both for Him and for His return—He can do this! Remember, nothing is impossible with God…
2. Secondly, let us ask God to help us desire to be faithful and obedient to Him on a daily basis.
Such faithfulness and obedience to God is not a way to earn His love that He reluctantly withholds from us or gives based on our merit; rather, our faithfulness and obedience to God is the best way to thank Him for His love and grace and mercy that He generously and willingly offers us unconditionally.
Such a daily faithfulness will turn us against the current of this world and will bring to the surface the difficulty of loving and obeying Jesus…The more faithful we are to Him, the more difficulty and resistance we will face (both inside and outside of ourselves), and thus the more thankful we will be when Jesus returns to end that difficulty forever (to dam the current, so to speak) and bring us to our true home with Him…
May the LORD ignite, stoke, and fan a fire within each of us that desires Him, a fire that will settle for nothing less than the deepest satisfaction that He was born and died to offer us, that He came back to life to secure for us, and that He will return to finally give to us forever…