THE SECOND ADVENT, Part 2
In part one of our study we looked briefly at the OBJECT of our Lords second advent, i.e. the purpose or work to which he comes to accomplish this second time. We will now examine in what manner our Lord made his resurrection known to his disciples. The importance in how the Lord manifested himself to the Apostles following his resurrection is essential to our understanding of how he is to be manifest at his second advent.
“We must bear in mind, that our Lord is no longer a human being; that as a human being he gave himself a ransom for men, having become a man for that very purpose. (1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 10:4, 5; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22) He is now highly exalted, to the divine nature. Therefore Paul said, “Though we have known Christ after the flesh (in the flesh), yet now, henceforth, know we him [so] no more.” (2 Cor. 5:16) He was raised from the dead a life-giving SPIRIT BEING (1 Cor. 15:45), and not a MAN, of the earth earthy (flesh and blood).
Since he is no longer in any sense or degree a human being, we must not expect him to come again as a human being, as at the first advent. His second coming is to be in a different manner, as well as for a different purpose.
Noting the fact that our Lord’s change from human to divine nature at his resurrection was even a greater change than the one which occurred some thirty-four years previously, when he laid aside the glory of spiritual being and “was made flesh,” we may with great profit consider very minutely his every action during the forty days after his resurrection before he went “to the Father“; because it is the resurrected Jesus of those forty days who is to come again, and not the MAN Christ Jesus who gave himself as our ransom, in death. He who was put to death a flesh being was also in his resurrection quickened [made alive] a spirit being. 1 Pet. 3:18
At his SECOND ADVENT he does not come to be subject to the powers that be, to pay tribute to Caesar and to suffer humiliation, injustice and violence; but he comes to reign, exercising all power in heaven and in earth. He does not come in the body of his humiliation, a human body, which he took for the suffering of death, inferior to his former glorious body (Heb. 2:9); but in his glorious spiritual body, which is “the express image of the Father’s person” (Heb. 1:3); for, because of his obedience even unto death, he is now highly exalted to the divine nature and likeness, and given a name above every name–the Father’s name only excepted. (Phil. 2:9; 1 Cor. 15:27)
The Apostle shows that it “doth not yet appear” to our human understanding what he is now like; hence we know not what we shall be like when made like him, but we (the Church) may rejoice in the assurance that we shall one day be with him, and like him, and see him as he is (1 John 3:2)–not as he was at his first advent in humiliation (in flesh), when he had laid aside his former glory and for our sakes had become poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich.
If we consider the wisdom and prudence of our Lord’s methods of manifesting his presence to his disciples after his resurrection, as well as previously, it may help us to remember that the same wisdom will be displayed in his methods of revealing himself at his second advent, both to the Church and to the world–methods not necessarily similar, but in each case well suited to his object, which never is to alarm or excite men, but to convince their cool, calm judgments of the great truths to be impressed upon them. Our Lord’s first advent was not a startling, exciting or alarming event. How quietly and unobtrusively he came! So much so that only those who had faith and humility were enabled to recognize in the infant of humble birth, in the man of sorrows, in the friend of the humble and poor, and finally in the crucified one, the long-looked-for Messiah.
After his resurrection, the manifestation of his presence would in the nature of the case be a more astounding fact, particularly when his changed nature is taken into consideration. Yet the fact of his resurrection, together with the fact of his changed nature, had to be fully manifested, not to the entire world at that time, but to chosen witnesses who would give credible testimony of the fact to succeeding generations.
Had the entire world been made acquainted with the fact then, the testimony coming down to our day would probably have been much less trustworthy, being colored and warped by men’s ideas and mixed with their traditions so much so that the truth might appear almost or quite incredible (unbelievable). But God entrusted it only to chosen, faithful and worthy witnesses; and as we notice the account, let each mark how perfectly the object was accomplished, and how clear, positive and convincing was the proof of Christ’s resurrection and change offered to them. Mark, too, the carefulness with which he guarded against alarming or unduly exciting them while making manifest and emphasizing these great truths.
Be assured that the same wisdom, prudence and skill will be displayed in his methods of making known the fact of his glorious presence at his second advent. The cool, calm judgment will be convinced in every case, though the world in general will need to be brought by severe discipline to the proper attitude to receive the testimony, those whose hearts are right will have the blessed intelligence sooner. All the proofs of his resurrection and change to spiritual nature were not given to his disciples at once, but as they were able to bear them and in the manner calculated to make the deepest impression.
He broke the news of his resurrection gradually to them– first, through the women (Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, Mary the mother of James and Salome, and others with them–Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1, 10), who came early to the sepulcher to anoint his dead body with sweet spices.
While they wondered whom they should get to roll away the stone from the door of the sepulcher, behold, there was an earthquake, and when they came they found the stone rolled away, and an angel of the Lord sat upon it, who addressed them, saying, “Fear not, for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here; for he is risen, AS HE SAID. Come; see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and behold, he goes before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him.” Matt. 28:5-7
It seems that Mary Magdalene separated from the other women and ran to tell Peter and John (John 20:1, 2), while the others went to tell the rest of the disciples, and that after she had left them Jesus appeared to the other women on the way, saying (Matt. 28:9,10), “All hail.” And they came and held him by the feet and worshiped him. Then said Jesus unto them, “Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee [their home], and there shall they see me.” And with fear and joy they ran to tell the other disciples. In their mingled feelings of surprise, perplexity, joy and fear, and their general bewilderment, they scarcely knew how to report their strange and wonderful experience. When Mary met Peter and John she said sadly, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher and we know not where they have laid him.” (John 20:2) The other women told how at the sepulcher they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive (Luke 24:22, 23), and then how they afterward met the Lord in the way. Matt. 28:8, 10
The majority of the disciples evidently regarded their story merely as superstitious excitement, but Peter and John said, we will go and see for ourselves; and Mary returned to the sepulcher with them. All that Peter and John saw was that the body was gone, that the grave clothes were carefully folded and laid by, and that the stone was rolled away from the door. So in perplexity they turned away, though Mary still remained there weeping. As she wept she stooped down and looked into the sepulcher and saw two angels, who said, “Woman, why weeps thou?” She answered, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.”
And as she turned about she saw Jesus standing, but did not know him. He inquired, “Woman, why weeps thou? Whom seeks thou?” And she, supposing him to be the gardener, answered, “Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” Then, in the old familiar tone which she quickly recognized, the Lord said, “Mary!”
That was enough to establish her faith in the statement of the angel, that he had risen, which until now had seemed like a dream or an idle tale; and in her joy she exclaimed, “MASTER!” Her first impulse was to embrace him, and to tarry in his presence. But Jesus gently informed her that there was a very important mission for her to perform now, in bearing witness to the fact of his resurrection, and that she should be in haste to carry the message and establish the faith of the other disciples, still in perplexity and uncertainty, saying,
“Touch [Greek, “haptomai”, embrace] me not [do not tarry for further demonstration of your affection now]; for I am not yet ascended to my Father [I will be with you for a short time yet]: but go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God.” (John 20:17) Through the other women also he had sent them word that he would meet them in Galilee.
Next, he overtook two of the sad and perplexed disciples as they walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and inquired the cause of their sadness and despondency. (Luke 24:13-35) And one of them answered: “Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and besides all this, today is the third day since these things were done. [Here they were probably calling to mind John 2:19, 21, and 22.] Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulcher. And when they found not his body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulcher, and found it even so as the women had said; but him they saw not.”
No wonder they were perplexed; how strange it all seemed! How peculiar and thrilling had been the events of the past few days!
Then the stranger preached them a stirring sermon from the prophecies, showing them that the very things which had so disheartened them were the things which the prophets had foretold concerning the true Messiah: that before he could rule and bless and lift up Israel and all the world, he must first redeem them with his own life from the curse of death, which came upon all through Adam, and that afterward, raised to life and glory by Jehovah, their Master would fulfill all that was written by the prophets concerning his future glory and honor, as truly as he had fulfilled those prophecies which foretold his sufferings, humiliation and death. A wonderful preacher! And a wonderful sermon was that! It started new ideas and opened new expectations and hopes.
As they drew near the village they constrained him to tarry with them, as it was toward evening and the day was far spent. He went in to tarry with them; and as he sat at meal with them, he took bread and brake and gave it to them. THEN THEIR EYES WERE OPENED; and he vanished out of their sight. Not until that moment did they recognize him, though they had walked, and talked and sat at meal together. He was known to them not by face, but in the simple act of blessing and breaking bread in the old familiar way, thus assuring their faith in what they had already heard—that he had risen, and would see them again.”
The Lord would appear several more times to his followers, and in each case he would appeared in a different form, nor was it necessary that they should ask him if he were the Lord; for on each occasion they would recognize him, not by physical sight, but by some familiar act or gesture, through the EYES OF THEIR UNDERSTANDING.
“Their risen Lord was changed indeed, not only in his personal appearance—appearing sometimes in one way and place, and again in a different way and place, manifesting his “all power“—but he was changed in condition or nature also. No longer did he appeal to the Jews, nor show himself to them; for since his resurrection none saw him in any sense except his friends and followers. His words, “Yet a little while, and the world sees me NO MORE,” were thus verified.
Thus was the faith of the apostles and of the early Church established in the fact of the Lord’s resurrection. Their doubts were scattered, and their hearts rejoiced; and they returned to Jerusalem and continued in prayer and supplication and study of the Scriptures, waiting for the adoption promised by the Father, and their endowment with spiritual understanding, and with special miraculous gifts of power, to enable them to convince true Israelite’s, and to establish the Gospel Church, at the day of Pentecost. Acts 1:14; 2:1
Though our Lord at his second advent will not manifest his presence in the same way that he did during those forty days after his resurrection, yet we have his assurance that the “brethren shall not be in darkness.” Nay, more: we shall have an aid which they could not and did not have to help them during those forty days, viz., “power from on high,” (the Holy Spirit) to guide us into the understanding of every truth due to be understood, and, even as promised, to show us things to come. Hence in due season we shall have full understanding of the MANNER, TIME and attendant circumstances of his appearing, which, if carefully watched for and marked, will be no less convincing than were the evidences of our Lord’s resurrection furnished to the early Church, although of a different kind.” (B107-122)
We will continue with our next post.