For our final Christmas devotional on these Sunday’s in December we want to take one more look at the truth that Jesus’ 1st coming also points us to His 2nd coming. While we celebrate Christmas looking back, we also celebrate it looking ahead. The Word of God will not let us remember the wonder of Christ’s Incarnation without remembering the wonder of His parousia (personal return in glory). We have been drawing some contrasts between these two comings of our Lord, and in this last devotional we want to draw one more contrast.
That is the truth that when Jesus came the first time, he came in relative obscurity and quietness; the coming of the Son of God in our flesh was almost secret and hidden. But his second coming will not be so. When Jesus returns in glory, it will be an open and public event, a “showy” and loud revelation, heralded by shouting angels and saints, and announced with trumpet blast. Let’s notice more of this contrast and “flesh it out” according to what the Bible says.
When Jesus came the first time, it was a relatively hidden and quiet coming. Although it was announced throughout the OT Scriptures that He was coming, and though He came into the world and the world had been prepared for Him by the sovereign hand of His Father, the world (with few exceptions) didn’t know the Son of God had come (Jn.1:10-11). He was born of lowly, obscure Jewish parents (Matt.1:18ff.). His place of birth was Bethlehem, a little, despised village in Judea (Micah 5:2; Matt.2:5-6). His birth announcement was not proclaimed in the capital city of Jerusalem or even in another prominent city of Israel, but to insignificant (by human standards) shepherds out on the hills of Bethlehem (Lu.2:8ff.). And yes, that first coming of our Lord was heralded by a glorious appearance by angels – a multitude of the heavenly host singing and praising God (Lu.2:13-14)! – but besides those lowly shepherds who heard that glorious chorus? And yes, Jesus was later honored by a visit from the Eastern magi (Persians), who were led by a glorious star and who brought him magnificent gifts (Matt.2:1ff.), but again, who knew about this, besides the deranged, hateful Herod and his henchmen?
This characteristic of the first coming of our Lord was in perfect harmony with the nature of His mission the first time He entered our world. He came in humiliation and shame to rescue sinners. He came to assume the nature of His “seed”, so that He could assume their sin and guilt, their curse and shame, and deliver them from it by suffering in their place all His life and then dying for them on the cross (see our previous devotions on this). It was fitting, then, that His first coming be hidden and quiet.
But not so His second coming! That will be a wide open, public affair! In the end of this age the Son of God will return to this earth with glory and power, and with a great show of that glory and power. Yes, the Lord Jesus will come the 2nd time as a thief in the night, suddenly and unexpectedly (for the unbelieving wicked), but when He comes, they – and all His children – will know it, plainly and unmistakably! Listen to what these verses declare about our Lord’s 2nd coming:
Matt.24:27 – For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 29Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
I Thess.4: 13But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
2 Thess.1: 7And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
2 Peter 3: 10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Rev.1: 7Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Rev.19: And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: 2For true and righteousare his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. 3And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. 4And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. 5And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. 6And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
Do you see the contrast between the two comings of the Lord also in this respect? And do you see why too? The purpose of Christ’s mission in the 2nd coming (plain from the above passages) is in harmony with this public and prominent personal coming. Look at all that He comes again to accomplish – the defeat of antichrist and satan, the resurrection of the dead, the judgment of all men, the purifying and re-making of the heavens and the earth, and the taking home of His bride to an unending wedding feast! Nothing private or hidden about these things! And so He comes with great public glory and power. No one will miss the day.
And so, as we remember and celebrate Christmas, let us do so with our spiritual eyes on the return of our Lord. The above verses also make plain that if this is our hope, it will transform our whole way of living. Is that reflected in the way we keep Christmas too? May God bless our celebration of Christ’s lowly coming even as we prepare for our celebration of that great and glorious day to come.