Expecting the Rapture
Celebrating His final Passover in the upper room, Jesus announced, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.” You can almost feel the despair as Peter asked, “Lord, why can I not follow You now?”
The disciples expected Jesus would launch the Messianic Kingdom and had followed Him believing they would be part of the administration. Remember the incident where the mother of James and John asked the Lord to seat her sons on either side of Him in the kingdom?
Now, He was leaving them? Jesus offered hope to His perplexed disciples assuring that they could expect Him to return.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:1-3).
TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU
Our Lord conveyed the certainty of His return using the imagery of a first century Jewish wedding. The cultural analogy—of a groom returning for his bride—would have been obvious to the disciples.
Part of the pre-nuptial customs included the payment of the mohar (dowry) and establishing a marriage covenant with a future father-in-law. Next, the groom would return to his own father’s house to prepare an addition where the couple would make their home.
In the meantime, the fiancé readied herself for the wedding day. When all preparations were complete, the groom traveled back to his future in-law’s house announcing his arrival with a shout. His voice alerted the bride who would then rush to meet him to join a procession to their marriage feast and new apartment.
Even though 21st century Christians don’t necessarily see the link to Jewish marriage customs, the apostle Paul connects the dots.
“[Christ] loved the church and gave Himself for her…that He might present her to Himself a glorious church” (Eph. 5:25-27).
The apostle John saw the announcement of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in a vision and recorded the details:
“the Lamb [Christ] has come, and His wife [the church] has made herself ready… arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright (Rev. 19:7-8). (1)
I WILL COME AGAIN
TO RECEIVE YOU UNTO MYSELF
Jesus’ stated purpose for going back to heaven was to prepare a place for His bride (the church) in His Father’s house. The clause, “And if I go and prepare a place for you,” conditionally links Jesus’ departure with His return (John 14:3).
The Greek word translated “I will come” is actually in the present tense and literally means “I come.” Some translate the Greek more emphatically as “I do come” drawing attention to the imminent nature of His return.
Paul told the Philippians, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20).
James encouraged, “be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (Jas. 5:8).
John exhorted, “abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 Jn. 2:28).
Both Paul and John use the word “we” to express their expectancy that Jesus Christ could return during their lifetime. Paul encouraged Titus to be, ”looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Ti. 2:13). Paul also commended the church at Thessalonica for expectantly waiting, “for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Th. 1:10).
Jesus’ announcement communicated an exclusive event. For people of biblical faith, the “blessed hope” is more than a theological concept; it’s an imminent reality we can and should expect.
That it’s been more than 2,000 years since Jesus’ ascension into heaven in no way diminishes the certainty of His coming for the church. At the sound of His voice, Christians who have already died will instantaneously rise from the grave to meet the Lord in the air immediately followed by those who are alive.
“[W]e shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:52).
Throughout church history, Christians have expectantly looked forward to their meeting in the air with the Lord Jesus Christ. The early church was so convinced of the Lord’s return they greeted one another with the Greek expression Maranatha, “our Lord come!” (1 Cor. 16:22).
Are you expecting the Rapture?
We may well be the generation to hear His shout, the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God. Each day brings us closer to the eventuality of His promised return. Now more than ever, “Maranatha” should be on the lips of every biblically authentic Christian.
Maranatha—Our Lord Come!
1) On Shavuot/Pentecost, ten days after Jesus’ ascension, the disciples became the first members of the New Testament church, also known as the bride of Christ (Acts 2:3-4).
1) Featured image and Photo montage, [Public domain]
2)Banner Detail: Jesus Christ Returns for the Church. Background image, Lehava Activity 2012/Pikiwiki Israel/Wikimedia Commons. Foreground image, [Public domain]. Digital composition, MKM Portfolios
© 2018 Charles E. McCracken, commentary only. Repost/Reprint with permission. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.