Many Americans today expect Jesus to return within their lifetimes. What we believe about when Jesus will return and what will happen when he returns has serious implications for how we live our lives. For example, if I believe Jesus will return soon and destroy the earth, it hardly matters whether I recycle my aluminum cans. If I believe Jesus will demand an accounting of what I did with my life, I better hope “teach theology” is a good answer, and that I do it well. Or if I expect the main issue will be whether I believed the right things, I better make sure I follow the right denomination. Even for those who do not believe that Jesus will return, expectations of the second coming are a significant part of American society and culture. One often hears references to the Second Coming, Judgment Day, the Rapture, the End of Time, the End of the World, and “the apocalypse.”
While he lived on earth, Jesus did not actually do most of what the Son of Man and Messiah were supposed to do
The followers of Jesus concluded that Jesus was the Messiah even though the Romans killed him. They concluded that his death was not the end of his significance. They concluded that he rose from the dead for the forgiveness of sin and victory of life. They Washington car title loans also concluded that the resurrection was not the end of the story either. Jesus would return, and return soon, to do all the things the Messiah was expected to do, to bring about the full kingdom of God, and to vindicate his followers.
The first Christians thought that Jesus would return very soon, within their lifetimes. On the one hand, one might say they were wrong. On the other hand, one might say they were right to live their lives in a constant state of readiness. They also thought that the main significance of Jesus would come in the future, whereas the first coming was just a warning of the coming judgment. Over time, Christians found more and more significance to what Jesus had already done to make present the Kingdom of God (realized eschatology), even though in some senses the complete fulfillment remains for the future.
3.5.1e again in glory
Recall from Daniel 7 that the Son of Man was supposed to have the glory of God, perhaps even be God. When Jesus lived, however charismatic he may have been, he did not live a glorious life or die a glorious death. Those who saw him as Son of Man, or Son of Man designate, were able to look past appearances. The second coming of Jesus was expected to differ from the first coming primarily in that the glory of Jesus would be unmistakable to all.
When Jesus returns in glory the most obvious action expected is the defeat of the Roman Empire, seen as the opposite of the Kingdom of God. Part of the problem is that they were mean. They harshly occupied Judea, they killed Jesus, they persecuted the followers of Jesus. However, there was a deeper problem. If you saw the Roman Empire in its prime-its architecture, palaces, temples, army, pageantry, and wealth-the first word to come to mind might be “glorious.” Meanwhile, Jesus was far from glorious. The followers claimed to see past these appearances and know that the opposite was really the case. Jesus is the one properly deserving of power and glory, and Rome is a dirty disgusting excrement monster. When Jesus returns, all will see what the Christians now see.