The disciples of Jesus had gathered on the Mount of Olives to meet with their risen Lord one last time.
“Witness for me,” Jesus said, “to the end of the earth.” Once again, He promised to help them in their task. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”
As He spoke, Jesus began to rise into the air. The disciples watched for a long time, even after a cloud of angels surrounded their Master and hid Him from their sight.
They were startled when a new voice spoke to them. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?”
The disciples looked around and saw two men standing near them. They knew the men were angels. Jesus had sent the angels to give words of comfort to His friends. “This same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven will come again in the same way you saw Him go,” the angels said.
The disciples knew the angels spoke the truth. Jesus Himself had promised He would return.
“What will be the signs of your coming?” The disciples asked Jesus.
Jesus told them some of the signs to look for. “There will be many wars,” He said, “but do not be terrified.
The end is not yet.”
Today, we face the possibility of nuclear war, but Jesus says “do not be terrified.” He has promised that the world will not be destroyed by any war. “The end is not yet.” The world will not end until Jesus comes again to take His people safely home.
“There will be famines, pestilence and earthquakes,” Jesus said. Nearly every day we hear of terrible disasters from storms, earthquakes, floods and volcanoes. People die in planes, trains and cars, in factory explosions and in epidemics of disease. Satan is trying to destroy us all, but Jesus has promised that Satan will be defeated.
Laws will be passed, Jesus said, to try to tell people how they must worship God.
“Many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.”
We should pay attention to our government so that laws can’t be passed to make other people worship in the way the lawmakers think is right. Jesus said using force causes hatred, not peace. True worship can come only from the heart, not from the government.
“False Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders. Be careful that they do not deceive you,” Jesus warned.
Then He described how He would come again. “As the lightning comes from the east and shines to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be,” He said.
“If anyone says, ‘He is in the desert,’ do not even go to look. If they say, ‘He is in the hidden room,’ do not believe it,” Jesus told His disciples. Those who hate Jesus “will mourn,” but those who love Him will be filled with joy when He comes.
We can see the signs which tell us His coming is near, but we can’t know just when it will be. “Of that day and hour no one knows,” Jesus said, “not even the angels of heaven. Only my Father knows.”
The world will be as it was in the days of Noah. People will be thinking only of themselves and their own sinful wants. They will be evil, selfish and cruel. Most people will not be looking for Jesus to come. But those who love Jesus will be watching for Him.
“Be ready,” Jesus said, ”for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”
How can we be ready? By inviting Jesus into our hearts to fill us with His love. Then we will love one another and love our neighbors as ourselves, just as Jesus commanded us.
Then we will be part of the kingdom of God. We will be ready to go home with Him.
Part of being ready is following the command to preach His word. “Witness for me,” Jesus tells us. “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
When we tell others about Jesus, we are getting ready for His coming. And we are helping others to be ready, too.
Jesus gives us a special prayer to pray as we await His coming: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy . . . To stand before the Son of Man.”
The story of Jesus’ return to heaven and the promise of His second coming is told in Acts 1:6-11. The story of the disciples asking Jesus for the sign of His coming is told in three of the gospels: Matthew 24:3-14, 23-27, 36-39, 44; Luke 21:8-11, 25-28, 34-36 and Mark 13:5-13, 21-27, 32, 33. What did Jesus go away to do? What will He do when He comes back? This question is answered in John 14:1-3. The very last book in the Bible tells us more about Jesus’ return. Read Revelation 1:7 and Revelation 22:12, 20.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14