Jesus Christ is perhaps one of the most well-known, loved, and disdained figures in history. Believers bless His name daily and those who do not believe in Him use His name daily as an exclamation of frustration or surprise. Western culture is steeped in the words and character of Jesus. His words are read even in the most secular halls of academia (if not etched somewhere on campus) and religion-less politicians quote Him for votes.
His historical existence is rationally undeniable, and the evidence for His deity is staggering. Perhaps one of the most discussed, controversial, and misunderstood topics regarding Jesus is His return. Here are four Biblical facts concerning that fateful day.
1. Christ Promised He Would Return
This may not seem like a significant fact at first. However, when you consider that everything else Jesus said would happen actually happened, the implications are impressive. Jesus promised that He would be arrested, killed, and resurrected on the third day (Mt. 16:21). Jesus also foretold the when and how of the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in AD 70 forty years before it happened (Mt. 24:1-34).
The list of things that Jesus promised would happen and came to pass is lengthy, while the list of things that He promised that haven’t happened yet are one: His return. If all the promises of Jesus came to pass then we can have confidence that He will return, because He promised He would (Jn. 14:3)!
2. We Don’t Know When
Despite the intricate mathematical equations of some, no, you cannot determine when Jesus will return. If any man claims to know when Jesus will return, he contradicts Jesus: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only … stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming … you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Mt. 24:39, 42, 44).
The unexpected return of Jesus is a repeated theme throughout the New Testament. The return of Jesus is repeatedly described as a thief coming in the night (Mt. 24:42-44; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3). A thief does not call ahead and leave a voicemail letting you know when he is coming. He doesn’t send you an email or poke you on Facebook to tell you that he’s coming tonight. He doesn’t leave any signs to tell you when he is coming. He comes unexpectedly. Jesus will do the same.
3. We Will All Be Judged
“Only God can judge me” is a common defense when one is faced with criticism. While the phrase is often misused, it is true that God will judge. God’s judgments have long been described by His prophets as “great and terrible” (Joel 2:11, 31; Mal. 4:5 ASV). Great for those who are prepared, and terrible for those who are not. Jesus was quite clear that when He returns, all men will be judged and there will be a universal resurrection of the dead (Jn. 5:26-30; Jn. 12:47-48). Jesus declared that the unrighteous will “go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Mt. 25:46). Paul reiterates that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10).
4. He’s Waiting For You
Many skeptics might wonder why Jesus hasn’t returned in about 2,000 years. They might ponder, “if Jesus is real, and if he is supposed to come back, why hasn’t he?” Some may even deduce from this line of thinking that since Jesus hasn’t returned yet, He isn’t at all. Such is not the case. The Bible actually addresses this very thing in Second Peter 3:3-8:
Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
It may seem to us as if Christ hasn’t returned for such a long time. But God’s omniscience does not view time the same way we do. Peter goes on to remind us of that, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Why hasn’t Christ returned yet? Not because He doesn’t exist. Not because He forgot. Jesus has yet to return because God’s waiting for mankind to repent. God is begging the scoffer, the skeptic, and even the overly-righteous pew-sitter to repent. He will not force you to, but He wants you to. He’s waiting for you to repent. He doesn’t want you to perish.
One of these days, Jesus will return as promised. We don’t know when, but we know why: to judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31). Jesus is waiting to return. He’s waiting for those who have unforgiven sin in their life to repent. Jesus will come like a thief in the night, will you be ready?