• The Explore the Bible lesson for Nov. 27 focuses on 2 Peter 3:1-13, 17-18.
Imagine you’ve finally gotten to go on the cruise of a lifetime—maybe to places that were on your bucket list. It initially was billed as a 10-day cruise. However, on the 10th day, still many miles from home port, the captain comes over the loud speaker and makes a startling announcement.
There has been an international crisis. The bad news is the return to home port has been cancelled. It’s no longer an option. The good news is that there are enough supplies on board to remain at sea forever.
“Party on!” he says. “We’ll be at sea forever, but at least we have plenty of food and water to last, no matter how long the cruise lasts.”
At first, it’s something kind of exciting. Although you’ve paid for a 10-day cruise, you’ve just gotten the bargain of a lifetime. Then, 10 days becomes 20, and then a hundred, and then a thousand. At some point, the passengers become restless.
The end gives meaning
Eventually, even parties become hell if there is no sense they’ll ever come to an end. It’s the knowledge that all things come to an end that gives them their true meaning—even our very lives.
It’s something we tend to push to the back of our minds, the knowledge that our physical lives will come to an end. Yet, the knowledge that our lives will end compels us to make the days we have as meaningful as possible. No human life lasts forever. The knowledge of that one truth may be the only thing that binds all of humanity together. All humans know physical life is finite.
Yet, for followers of Jesus there is another dimension. Beyond a mere end, we are promised a purposeful end with the coming of Christ yet a second time.
Jesus is coming again
There are probably as many different beliefs about the Second Coming of Jesus as there are churches. In the end, there is nothing about that fact that should divide believers. Instead, we should seek common ground—the fact that we believe God has not finished his redemptive work in Christ.
Jesus will come again, we are promised in Peter’s epistle, to bring to completion what God started in creation. This is what Peter is referring to in 3:5-6. There is an element of judgment involved.
However, while some fear the judgment of God, it is God’s ultimate judgment that gives us hope. While things may be out of sorts in this worldly order, God has not finished what he started. Christ will come again to set even the scales of justice. Our faith gives us hope in knowing no matter how much evil has delivered in our lives, in time, the justice of God will bring things to their purposeful conclusion.
When we look around at all the evil that goes unanswered in our time, we can say to all of it, “Jesus is coming again.” No dictator or criminal or corruption can undo what Jesus cannot and will not set aright when he returns.
How should we live?
All this begs the question of how we should live in the knowledge of this wonderful promise.
For one thing, no matter what happens, we should not give into despair. “Scoffers will come,” Peter says in 3:3. The apparent delay of Jesus is just that—only apparent.
There is what we can see, and there is what we cannot see. Our ability to see or not see in no way determines the reality of anything.
We were not here to witness the original creation. Does anyone deny that it occurred? All around us is the evidence that, at a point in time we didn’t even exist, God was at work accomplishing his purpose (3:5).
By the same standard we can trust that, our inability to see what God will do in the future by no means cancels it out. The same God who initiated this world into being also will bring it to its redemptive conclusion.
This is a mystery. In the biblical sense, a mystery is not a problem to be solved but a truth to be celebrated. We can celebrate what God has done and what God, in Christ, has promised to do.
It’s a beautiful truth of the gospel. God sent his Son to the world. The world rejected God’s Son and even crucified him. Then, even though the world rejected the Son (John 1:10-11), God sent him back through the Son’s resurrection from the tomb. In other words, God already has sent his Son twice, at his birth and then again at his resurrection.
Now, we are promised, God will send his Son yet again to bring about the redemptive purpose for which we were all created in the first place. If we trust the resurrection of Jesus, then we can certainly trust that the God who sent Jesus will send Jesus yet a perfect third time.
Knowing that emboldens us to live with purpose and courage until the end of our days. Our days will end. Yet, in Christ, our last day will only be the beginning of our eternal days.
Jesus came and then came again
Glen Schmucker is a hospice and pediatric hospital chaplain in Fort Worth.