The book of Acts tells us about the memorable day when Jesus ascended (or rose up) through the clouds and into heaven to sit at the right hand of God. Acts 1:10-11 goes on to explain what happened next: “They (Jesus’ disciples) were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’”
You might have guessed it already, but the two mysterious men dressed in white weren’t “men” at all: they were God’s angels. And they had come with good news: what goes up must come down! Or to put it more accurately: Jesus left our world by rising up into the clouds. And he’s going to come back someday, descending down from the clouds! The name for this special future day is the “Second Coming of Christ.”
The first coming, of course, was when Jesus was born as a baby in Bethlehem. During that first 33-year trip to our planet, Jesus came on a mission to save us from sin. He finished his work by living a life perfectly obeying God’s commands, dying a death to pay for our sins, and rising on the third day to prove he really was God’s Son. At the end of his first coming, Jesus ascended into the clouds and returned to his Father in heaven.
Jesus’ second coming will be much different than his first. In Matthew 25:31-32, Jesus says, “When the Son of Man (Jesus) comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him.” When Jesus comes back, he’s not coming to be a suffering savior for a second time. He’s returning to sit on a throne as king of the world. And this time, he’ll be bringing a whole angel army with him!
When Jesus sits on his throne, he will judge the entire world. King Jesus will separate everyone into two groups: the members of his kingdom and the enemies of his kingdom! Those who were with Jesus will enjoy life with their king forever. And those who were against Jesus will endure forever punishment.
You might be thinking, “When is Jesus coming back?” The correct answer is: we don’t know! Anyone who gives you a different answer is mistaken or is telling you a big fat lie! In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2, Paul describes Jesus’ return like this: “Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”
When a thief comes to break into your house, they arrive at a time you aren’t expecting – it’s a surprise. And that’s exactly how Paul wants us to think about Jesus’ return: it could happen at any moment! We’ll talk more about the details of this “judgment day” and how you can be ready for it in a few questions.