Sunday June 12, 2005 | Greg Boyd
But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
John the Baptist’s role was to prepare the way for Jesus. The Church has a role that is similar to John’s: just as he prepared the way for Christ 2000 years ago, we too are to prepare the world for the second coming. We are to live today as though Jesus were coming back at any time. We don’t live the way the world lives. We are a part of a revolution. We invest in the Kingdom. We revolt against the status quo. We work to bring about the Kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven. And as we do this, we hasten the Lord’s return.
Last week Greg spoke about John in Elizabeth’s womb. This week he spoke about what John did after birth. He began with two prophecies (Is. 40:3-5 and Mal. 3:1). These prophecies show that Jesus is God by identifying the one John is preparing for with the God of the Old Testament. This, of course, is a frequent claim of the New Testament (Jn. 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Titus 2:13, etc.).
John’s role was to prepare the way for Jesus. The image is that of God riding in on a horse and the path is to be made ready for this ahead of time. In some ways, the Church has a role that is similar to John’s. Just as John prepared the way for Christ to come 2000 years ago, we too are in the world with the job of preparing the world for Christ’s second coming! This second coming is described in 2 Peter 3:8-13.
The first coming of Christ was as a servant, a teacher and a savior. The purpose was to destroy death and the power of the enemy. To open up free access to God’s grace. To plant the Kingdom of God. To start a revolution!
The second time, Christ will come in glory and power. The job will be finished, the world will be judged, and everything that is not compatible with the Kingdom of God will be purged. The Kingdom of God will be manifest. We know that Jesus is coming, but we don’t know when. The Bible tells us it will be like a “thief in the night.” Unexpected, quickly, when we least expect it.
The second coming of Christ is good news for believers! Finally the war will be over, the troubles of this world will pass away, creation will be whole, the love of God will be manifest in all things, and Christ will be Lord of all! For those who cling to this world, it will be a time of great loss. All that we invest in that is not of God will disappear. Our investments will be for nothing.
So we live today as though Jesus were coming back any time. We don’t live the way the world lives. We are a part of a revolution that John paved the way for and Jesus started. We invest in the Kingdom. We revolt against the status quo. We work to bring about the Kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven. And as we do this, we hasten the Lord’s return.