The Return of Christ (Mark 13:24-37)

The Return of Christ (Mark 13:24-37)

I.) The King and His Gospel

We will begin this study by talking about the eternal King, and His glorious gospel. In the beginning our King created mankind in His image.[1] He created them, so that they might glorify Him by loving Him and enjoying Him forever. He placed the crown of His creation in the garden, and gave them a charge to cultivate it and to keep it.[2] He commanded them that they may eat the fruit from any tree in the garden, but they must not eat from the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden, that is the tree of knowledge of good and evil.[3] He told the man that the day he ate from that tree he would die. This death entailed not only a physical death, but a spiritual death as well which would leave mankind separated from God, and condemned under His just wrath.

The man and his wife were to enjoy their Creator by caring for His creation and communing with Him in the garden, and their love for Him would be demonstrated by their obedience to the truth of His Word by not eating from the fruit which was in the midst of the garden. As they did this, they would glorify their God, their Creator, and their King.

The man and his wife; however, did not love Him. They listened to the lie of Satan, who first deceived Eve into eating the fruit by convincing her that God was a liar by saying, “You surely shall not die! God knows that the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like Him.”[4] Seeing that the fruit was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and able to make her wise like God, Eve ate and gave to Adam who was with her, and he ate.[5] They sinned against the One of eternal worth, their God, and their Creator. They committed high treason against their King by devoting themselves to the lie of a creature, rather than the truth of their Creator.

Their King is Holy, Righteous, and Just; He will not allow the guilty to go unpunished, because He is a good King, and good Kings do not pervert justice. He told them the day they ate of that fruit they will surely die. They deserved to be physical destroyed, and forever crushed under His wrath, but we do not see this as we continue to read the Genesis account. We see God in search of lost humanity made in His image. We see the Creator seeking after His fallen creatures. We see the good and Holy, righteous and just King calling out to the unholy, unrighteous, and undeserving sinners saying, “Where are you?”[6] We see mercy on display. God withholding from man that which man deserves, their death and His wrath. We see grace demonstrated. God giving to man that which man does not deserve, life. We hear a promise given to the one who sought to murder the crown of creation with a lie, “And I will make enemies of you and the woman, and of your offspring and her Descendant; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.”[7]

God promised that One would come through the seed of the woman and destroy the work of Satan, but this Person would be crushed in so doing. God foreshadowed this crushing event in the garden by killing an innocent lamb, taking its skin, and clothing the man and the woman Himself.[8] Though man deserved to die, God allowed an innocent lamb to die in their place. Though they clothed themselves with fig leaves in an attempt to cover up their sin, God covered them with the skin of the lamb that died for their sin. All of this pointed to the One who would come through the seed of the woman and conquer Satan and his offspring, and be bruised while doing it.

It is important to understand that women do not carry seed, men do. This means that this Person will be born to a woman without her having ever been with a man. He will be virgin born. He will, therefore, be sinless, because the Scripture tells us that “in Adam all die.”[9] Romans 5:12 says, “Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men.” Romans 5:17, “By the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one.” Romans 5:18, “Through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men.” Romans 5:19, “Through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.” Sin is passed down through the seed of man. We are all born sinners, because our fathers are sinners. We are by nature children of wrath,[10] and this is because our first father, Adam, brought sin into the world when he did not love with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength his God, his Creator, his King.

From this man, God made everyone;[11] therefore, all of humanity at their very core does not love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength. All have sinned and fallen short of His glory,[12] “there is no righteous person, not even one; there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks out god;they have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, There is not even one.”[13] All are deserving of eternal death.[14] God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.[15]

How is the King of all glory able to extend His mercy towards us, while maintaining His justice? The King becomes a Man obedient to the point of death. The Father so loved the world that He gave His only Son to die for sinners.[16] The Son demonstrated His love by humbly taking on flesh. The King, Emmanuel, did not regard His divine estate as something to be held onto, but subjected Himself to the limitations of His own creation.[17] Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin, thus making Him both God and Man.[18] He was truly Man, yet without sin.

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.[19] King Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost.[20] He came to give His life as a ransom for many.[21] He came to lay down His life for His sheep.[22] He had the authority to lay it down, and He had the authority to take it up again.[23] He is the innocent Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world.[24] He is the One who John the Baptist directed people to saying, “I’m not even worthy to untie the sandal of the One who comes after me, whose way I am preparing.”[25] John 1:29-30 says, “29 He saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me is coming a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’”

Jesus Christ lived a life of perfect obedience to His Father. As a Man, He loved Him with the totality of His being without flaw. As the innocent Lamb of God, The King willingly went to the cross as an offering for our sin. With our sin upon Him, He hung there as someone who had never loved God in His life. He was pierced through for our transgression, He was crushed for our iniquities, and the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him.[26] It pleased the Lord to crush Him, putting Him to grief as He poured out Himself to death and bore the sin of many.[27] Christ the King became a Man to take on sin and to bear the wrath of God mankind deserves. He shed His eternal, infinite, and precious blood to cover sins. He suffered and died in our place.

Since He rendered Himself as an offering for sin, the Lord prolonged His days.[28] He did not allow His Holy One to undergo decay.[29] He raised Him back to life on the third day never to die again. Proving that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that all who turn from their sin and their self-righteousness to trust in the Jesus and His substitutionary work on the cross, will be forgiven by God, saved from His wrath, and given His life to forever live with Him. Christ is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.[30]

The wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.[31] For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.[32] Through one offense the result was condemnation to all mankind, so also through one act of righteousness the result was justification of life to all mankind.[33] By the offense of the one, death reigned through the one, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.[34] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.[35] He made Him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.[36]

What a glorious message! Sinful people can be forgiven of all their sins, saved from the wrath of
God and given the hope of eternal life solely by grace, through faith in Christ, the Living God, the Creator, the King of heaven and earth.

II.) The Sign of His Coming

We should understand that the good news of the message of Christ does concern itself only with His life, death, burial, and resurrection from the dead on the third day. It concerns itself also with the truth that the One who lived and died, and was buried and risen again, ascended to heaven and will one day return. Christ came first as a suffering servant, and He will come again as a conquering King! Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus Christ ascended in the clouds to the Father.[37] While the disciples were watching, two angelic beings said to them, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

In our portion of Mark, Jesus is teaching His disciples the sign of His coming. He speaks of what will happen “in those days after that tribulation,” which will be the seven year period of God’s wrath being poured on the unbelieving inhabitants of the earth. Part way through this period the Antichrist will commit the abomination of desolation by taking God’s seat in the temple, and demand to be worshipped by all the earth as God. He will seek to kill anyone who does not worship him, and he will make war with the people of God who have been saved during the tribulation period. It will be a horrific time with God’s wrath being poured out, and the Antichrist’s fury raging.

Jesus says that after that period “the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. His disciples would have been familiar with these statements, because Jesus is quoting the concept of the day of the Lord as it was spoken through the prophets Isaiah, Joel, Ezekiel, Haggai, Zephaniah, and Zechariah.

When the One who created all things by a word of His mouth and who upholds all things by the word of His power appears,[38] celestial bodies will be extinguished while others are shaken from their foundations and careen off course. The cosmos will crumble ushering in total darkness, which is exactly how Zechariah 14:6-7 describes the coming of the Lord, “It will come about in that day that there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. For it will be a unique day which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light.”

There will eventually be light on that day because Jesus Christ will come in the radiance and glory of God, and those who are alive at the time “will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. John describes this event in Revelation 19:11-19 says:

11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many crowns; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 says:

“The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God, and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These people will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified among Hissaints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed.”

            When Christ returns the Antichrist and his army of worshippers will be waiting to fight Him. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 says that Jesus will slay him “with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.” The Antichrist and the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence to deceive people will be thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.[39] Satan will be seized and bound for 1,000 years while Christ reigns on earth.[40]  Revelation 19:21 tells us that Jesus will kill the rest of the nonbelievers with the sword of His mouth, which should be understood as His Word. Nonbelievers will be carried away by swift judgment at the coming of Christ. Matthew 24:37-41 describes this:

37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 At that time there will be two men in the field; onewill be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.”

Before Christ establishes His millennial kingdom He will purge the earth of all nonbelievers when He comes. He will also “send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of heaven.” All the redeemed will be assembled together with Christ. He will gather together from over the face of the earth all the believers who were saved during the tribulation and survived. These will enter into His kingdom and live under His 1,000 year reign on this earth before He completely destroys it. They will be joined by believers throughout all the ages who will be reigning with Christ during the millennium before the eternal state. The coming of Christ will be a glorious day for believers, but a dreadful day for unbelievers.

III.) The Parable From the Fig Tree

Jesus explains how one can know when that day is approaching. He says in Mark 13:28-29

28 Now learn the parable from the fig tree: as soon as its branch has become tender and sprouts its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

Just as we are able to look at the leaves on the trees and know when seasons are coming, so will someone be able to look at the signs of the end of the age and know His coming is near. He says, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.This generation is not the generation of the disciples, but the generation of the reader who is to understand the things they see happening. This is the generation of the tribulation. Since the tribulation is only a seven year period, one generation will be able to witness it all. When they see the catastrophic events Jesus taught about in the beginning of His Olivet discourse, and see the Abomination of Desolation standing where it should not be standing in the holy place, they will “recognize that He is near, right at the door.”

            Jesus assures them of the certainty of His word on this, when He goes on to say, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.Yes, God will eventually destroy His original creation. Peter says, “The heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”[41] John says he saw heaven and earth flee away from the presence of the Lord, and no place was found for them.[42] After this, God will make a new heaven and a new earth.[43]

            Christ’s words are not like the current heaven and earth. Both will pass away, but His word will endure forever, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass, the grass withers, and the flower fades, but the Word of the Lord abides forever.”[44] God always fulfills His Word. He says in Isaiah 55:11, “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.” His words about these events will not pass away, they will come to be just as He described.

V.) Be on the Alert

Jesus final words establish the imminence of His return, meaning that it could happen at any moment, when He says, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son (Having restricted the exercise of His divine nature and prerogative when becoming a man), but the Father alone.”33 “Watch out, stay alert; for you do not know when the appointed time is. 34 It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay alert.35 Therefore, stay alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening (9:00 P.M), at midnight (12:00 A.M), or when the rooster crows (3:00 A.M), or in the morning (6:00 A.M.) 36 so that he does not come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 What I say to you I say to all: ‘Be on the alert!’”

Jesus Christ, the Living God, the Creator, the King, is coming back! Are you ready for His coming? There will be a day when every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth; and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.[45]

Hebrews 9:28 says:

“Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”

The return of Jesus Christ is the blessed hope of believers. Knowing that Christ will one day return for His people should draw those who are in Christ to turn from the things of the world which are contrary to God, and to grow in Christ by pursuing His holiness and righteousness.

Titus 2:11-15 says:

 “11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and in a godly manner in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, eager for good deeds.”

1 John 3:2-3 says:

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope set on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:3-4 that mockers will come in the last days, and these mockers will be saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?” Essentially people will be looking at the lapse of time and attempt to paint it out as if God has not kept His promise of returning. They do not understand that:

“With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”[46]

God has commanded all people everywhere to repent and believe His glorious gospel, and He has commissioned His church to proclaim it to all of creation.[47] He has commissioned us as His ambassadors to shine the light of the message of reconciliation in this darkened world, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.[48] We boldly proclaim the message of how the Father gave His Son, who knew no sin, to become sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. As we plead with them and appeal to their consciences with the gospel it will be as though God were begging through us for them to be reconciled with Him and be saved.[49]

Jesus says in Revelation 22:20, “I am coming quickly.” May our blessed hope, and sincere longing, and eager expectation draw us to say exactly what John said, “Come, Lord Jesus.” May our lives be lived in anticipation of the return of the Living God, the Creator, the Christ, the King!

[1] Genesis 1:26-27

[2] Genesis 2:15

[3] Genesis 2:17

[4] Genesis 3:4

[5] Genesis 3:6

[6] Genesis 3:9

[7] Genesis 3:15

[8] Genesis 3:7,21

[9] 1 Corinthians 15:22a

[10] Ephesians 2:3

[11] Acts 17:26

[12] Romans 3:23

[13] Romans 3:10-12

[14] Romans 6:23

[15] Romans 11:32

[16] John 3:16; Romans 5:8

[17] Philippians 2:5-8

[18] Matthew 1:18-25

[19] 2 Corinthians 5:19

[20] Matthew 18:11; Luke 19:10

[21] Mark 10:45

[22] John 10:15

[23] John 10:18

[24] Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 13:8

[25] John 1:25-27

[26] Isaiah 53:5

[27] Isaiah 53:10-12

[28] Isaiah 53:10

[29] Acts 2:27-32

[30] Hebrews 7:25

[31] Romans 6:23

[32] Romans 5:19

[33] Romans 5:18

[34] Romans 5:17

[35] 1 Corinthians 15:22

[36] 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 6:26

[37] Acts 1:9

[38] John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2-3

[39] Revelation 19:20

[40] Revelation 20:1-10

[41] 2 Peter 3:10-13

[42] Revelation 20:11

[43] Revelation 21:1

[44] 1 Peter 1:24-25

[45] Philippians 2:10-11

[46] 2 Peter 3:8-9

[47] Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15

[48] 2 Corinthians 5:19

[49] 2 Corinthians 5:20

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