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EXPECTING THE LORD'S RETURN
by Mark Warda
One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?” Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. (Matthew 9:14-15, NLT)
As Jesus spoke, He may have had the words of the prophet Isaiah in mind. “Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.” (Isaiah 62:5, NLT)
Jesus is the Bridegroom of the Church, which includes every believer. While He walked this earth, there was too much to be joyful about, like at a wedding celebration. But though Jesus came first to redeem us from our sins and offer salvation, He anticipated the time when He would go away to await His coming again. In His presence, there was cause for rejoicing. In His absence, there would be a time for fasting and intense prayer in expectation of His return.
In these present days, we observe civil unrest and even persecution in our society. But although we endure social activists and politicians who attempt to further erode our religious freedoms, we can find the same source of encouragement that the early Christians of the first century had, which was living in expectation of the Lord’s return. It is the message of Paul to those being persecuted and martyred in Rome, Corinth, and Thessalonica (see Romans 8:18-25; 1 Corinthians 15; and 1 Thessalonians 5).
Likewise, it is the message of John in the book of Revelation reminding us the words of Jesus, “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:12-13, NLT).
The book of Revelation closes with the final written words of Jesus, “Yes, I am coming soon!” and our response, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20, NLT)
Just as those early Christians who fasted and prayed equated the hunger in their stomachs for the absence of food with the hunger in their hearts for the absence of Jesus, may we too long for His second coming and live in such a way that expects His imminent return.