Life had been surreal for a small band of men who watched their beloved leader unjustly treated for three years and in the end horribly mangled, and ultimately crucified, buried, and miraculously raised from the dead. Along the way, Jesus Christ gave the Jewish people every reason to believe that He was, without a doubt, their long-awaited King. As predicted, He had come to His people and they did not receive Him (John 1:12).
The disciples had, no doubt, gone from bouts of being in utter despair and depression to incredible heights of inexpressible elation and joy. They were probably emotionally spent. This little group was assembled with the Lord Jesus Christ near Jerusalem at the foot of the Mount of Olives. They had been hanging on every word as Jesus taught about the kingdom of God. They hoped that at last their King was going to bring in this long-awaited kingdom. Their thoughts motivated them to ask again, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). The promise from God of a literal kingdom for Israel was at the heart of everything they hoped for. His teachings about this kingdom had led them to believe that it was to be a spiritual yet a real kingdom and that it was coming on this earth. The issue in their minds was simply, when.
The disciples asked Him one more time about this kingdom. Jesus did not put doubts in their minds concerning the fact of it. He gave them the impression that timing was the issue. He told them that its scheduling was under the authority of God the Father. “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7). They must wait. In the meantime, the King would send them the Holy Spirit, and they would be empowered to become witnesses for Him in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
In fact, this small group of common men, armed with the gospel of God’s immeasurable grace, literally turned the entire world upside down (Acts 17:6). The disciples had seen the King show miraculous power over nature, angels, disease, demons, and death itself. Some of these events must have replayed over and over again in their thinking as they walked up the mountain with Him. They did not realize that He had saved one of His greatest performances for last. Suddenly, He was lifted into the air and up, up, and away into the clouds and out of sight. They saw this happen with their own eyes. This wasn’t a mirage. This wasn’t a spiritual, invisible ascension. It was real and very animated. Wow!
It didn’t stop there. A couple of angels put a final note on the miracle. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Jesus Christ will come again in the same way that He left. This was to be their thread of hope that was to sustain their faith. Their King was coming back. His feet would once again stand on the Mount of Olives.
There are at least four reasons that the King will come. First, He will return to receive and reward His people, the Church (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; Revelation 22:12-13). Second, He will come to rescue and restore the nation of Israel in order to fulfill God’s covenant promise to Abraham (Zechariah 13:8–14:19; Romans 11:25–36; Revelation 19:11–20:3; Isaiah 61:2b–64:12; Ezekiel 37:4–12). Third, He will return to reclaim and renew the earth from the clutches of Satan (Isaiah 11:3–9; Romans 8:19–22; Luke 4:6–7; John 16:11, 12:31; Revelation 5:6–10). And finally, the King will return to reign over a kingdom on a renewed earth for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4–6).
This is all to be taken literally – just like His first coming. Jesus Christ came to earth the first time as the promised King offering His kingdom to the Jews (Luke 1:31–33). He came! God predicted that He was going to come into the world through the seed of a woman (Genesis 3:14; Luke 1:26–35). He did! Micah foretold that this event would occur in Bethlehem Ephratah (Micah 5:2). It did! Isaiah predicted that He would be “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14). He was! The wise men knew that this was all to be taken literally (Matthew 2:2). They came, they asked, and and they saw! The prophets predicted precisely that He was coming to die for His sheep (Isaiah 53:1–6; John 10:14–16). He did! His bodily resurrection was predicted in the Old Testament (Psalm 16:10). He rose! We need to be reminded that this all happened in time and space just as it was foretold by the prophets. There is no reason to take the prophecies concerning His second coming any other way. Stay safe and stay tuned.