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Our Great Hope

What was the first message delivered by the ascended and glorified  Lord Jesus? Moments after the cloud of glory carried Him out of their sight, the enraptured silence of the disciples of Christ was broken by the voice of two men in white apparel, saying, “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). On swift wing, from the very gates of the glory into which the Lord had entered, they had come, bringing the message that the Lord is coming back again.

This announcement was made before the Holy Ghost came to indwell the disciples to lead them into all those blessed truths that were afterwards revealed, and before one word was preached by them to the multitudes of sinful men. This fact should arrest the attention and lay hold of the soul of the Christian with great power, for it proves how tremendously important the second coming is to the Lord, and how He intended that it should have the first place in the thoughts of those upon the earth who love Him.

Fast-forward sixty years, and the last of those beloved men whose ears heard that first message from the Lord in glory was about to depart. But before he closed his service on earth the Revelation of things to come was given to him, and the last words of it from the Lord, closing up the Holy Scriptures, were a confirmation of that first announcement: “Surely I come quickly” (Revelation 22:20).

Yes, the first and last words from the Lord in the glory to His servants on earth were about His coming again. One of the strangest things in the history of the church is that this hope of the Lord’s return was a lost hope for centuries, and that these words spoken by the Lord in the fullness of His love for His own, to cheer them during His absence, have been so little treasured and understood.

To be effective, the truth of the Lord’s coming must be more than a  doctrine in the head—it must be a hope in the heart. “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). For this to happen, Christ must be the supreme object of our affections. “What think ye of Christ?” is still the great test of our walk with God, and the measure of our rightness with regard to this and every other spiritual truth.

We have seen a young bride-to-be sailing to join her husband for the couple’s wedding. As the port of destination came into view, she stood on the deck, and with binoculars eagerly scanned for the face of the one who possessed her heart. The hope of meeting him who was to be her husband was a great reality to her because she loved him and knew that he loved her.

It is here that the church on earth has failed. Other things instead of Christ have filled her heart, and she has left her first love, and so has ceased to long and look for her Lord. But the Spirit of God is still here to make the love of Christ a reality to all who long after Him. And the Lord Himself makes a wonderful appeal to the affections of His saints in the closing chapter of Revelation when He says, “I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star” (Revelation 22:16). He intends that the heart should be awakened by this presentation of Himself, and that in unison with the Spirit the bride shall say, “Come.”

—J. T. Mawson, adapted.