Luke 21:25-28: The Second Coming of Christ
The response of creation
The response of the unbeliever
The response of the believer
We move from the third worst judgement in history, the fall of Jerusalem described for us in v20-24; to the second worst judgement in history, the Second Coming of Christ Luke 21:25-28. When we come to the cross we will come to the worst judgement in human history. How can the cross, where only one man was judged for sin, be worse than the end of human history where every sinner who has not trusted in Christ will be cast into eternal damnation? A million universes of sinners receiving what their sins deserve are nothing in comparison to the God-man, our Creator, who is infinitely worthy of praise suffering on the cross for our sins. We who know and love God count it a greater horror that God should take my sins and be punished for them than that worthy sinners be judged. But for those who do not love God the second coming of Christ will indeed be the worst day in human history. Last week things got heavy as we looked at the fall of Jerusalem, well today we must continue looking at this difficult theme of judgement as we consider Jesus talking about His second coming.
The portion we are looking at is known as the Olivet discourse. Mark 13 and Matthew 24 are the parallel accounts of Jesus teaching here. You will remember that the disciples had been bragging about the temple which prompted Jesus to foretell its destruction. The disciples assuming Jesus was describing the end of the ages asked questions about when the temple would be destroyed and when the end of the age would be. Matt. 24:3, ‘As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” We showed that Jesus gave them more in the answer than they bargained for. Jesus reveals that there are two judgements, the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the age. Then we saw how Jesus as the Good Shepherd prepared His disciples. He spoke about wars, natural disasters, persecutions and false Messiahs coming before 70 AD, but indicated that these would also characterize this age between His comings. We showed that we need to read this section using bifocals recognizing that some parts are fulfilled in 70 AD and some parts are pointing to the Second Coming. V20-24 is clearly in Israel, talking about Jerusalem and its destruction. That section ended by saying, ‘and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’ The time of the Gentiles is the time for the gospel to go to the ends of the earth, and will end with the second coming of Christ. And that is the very next thing described in v25-28.
How do we know that v25-28 is talking about the second coming? V26 indicates that this is judgement coming upon the whole world and not just a local judgement. V27 speaks of Christ coming in the clouds which the angels at His ascent indicated would be the nature of His return Acts 1:11. And v28 speaks about our redemption, a word used to describe our final deliverance from this fallen world and sin. Matthew gives us some extra details which help us to see that this is the case, 24:29-31, ‘“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.’ Why do we stress this point? Because there are three ways to interpret these prophecies. There is the Futurist approach, the dispensational approach which sees some of the events described here as happening after a silent rapture, during a 7 year tribulation which includes a rebuilt temple that the Antichrist needs to set up an idol in. Then there is the Preterist reading which sees all of the Olivet discourse as talking about the local judgement of the fall of Jerusalem and not talking about the second coming. Our reading says that Christ is talking about both, but is now specifically talking about the second coming.
We will examine these verses under three headings, the response of creation, the response of the unbeliever, the response of the believer.