“You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5:8)
All of the New Testament writers make mention of the Lord Jesus’ return. The reasons for their reference may vary a little but by their mention of Jesus’ return they reveal that it is not just a theological or doctrinal concept but a very real and personal expectation even in the face of mocking and criticism.
That Jesus would come on two occasions is camouflaged in the Old Testament but is made clear by Jesus Himself. In John 14:3 Jesus is emphatic that He will both leave His disciples for a time and will come again to receive them at a later time.
On several occasions the Apostle Paul mentions the second coming of the Lord Jesus for His church. In 1 Corinthians 15 he comments that in an instant all living believers will be changed from this corrupted humanity to a body without corruption and from mortality to immortality (vv 51-54). In this wonderful chapter on the assurance of resurrection for believers Paul associates our bodily resurrection with Jesus’ coming again (v 22).
The second coming of Jesus was a source of comfort and joy for Paul in regard to his love for believers (1 Thessalonians 2:19). He reveals that Jesus’ coming for believers is before the outpouring of God’s wrath on an unbelieving world (1:10; 5:9). It is also motivation for fervent prayer for believers (3:13) and comfort concerning believers who have died prior to His second coming (4:16; 5:11). This letter appears to be preoccupied with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and what that means for Christians. Indeed, he too is emphatic regarding the return of the Lord Jesus (5:24).
James mentions the return of the Lord Jesus with regard to our manner of life while waiting (5:7, 8). Waiting as a farmer waits for the rain suggests that we should be using the waiting time to prepare for His coming. John affirms this as a right response to the revelation of His imminent return (2:28).
Peter also affirms the second coming of Jesus as faithful teaching (2 Peter 1:16) and that the scoffers that arise through the years before the event will be thoroughly discredited when He does appear (3:1-13). Peter is not referring to Jesus coming for the church but to Israel to establish His earthly kingdom. The two are linked as the Day of the Lord but occur a little more than seven years apart.
Peter tells us that the world will scoff at the notion of Jesus coming again inferring that He is a liar, impotent or unfaithful to His promises. Their argument is based on wishful thinking and the apparent delay in His coming. Peter reminds such thinkers that the delay is to give people, including the scoffers, opportunity to have a change of mind and heart and not for any lack in Jesus. “The Day of the Lord will come,” writes Peter, and when Jesus comes nothing will impede Him in the slightest.
As James encourages, let us prepare ourselves for Jesus’ coming without regard to the scoffers. Each day brings us inexorably a day closer to His coming when we shall see Him face to face. Surely this is joy and comfort to all who Know Jesus Christ.