When you start talking about the possibility of a spiritual world, life after death, and prophecies fulfilled, some people just have a sudden shut down of their mind or emotions. It’s a real wrench because it just goes counter to almost everything they’ve generally held to be true.
I know this because I went through that exact experience and it was not easy. It was really difficult. But also it was a real liberation. I wanted the truth, no matter what, even if it meant there actually was a real God, just like I’d always been told, ha!
And if you’re here, reading part 3 of this series, then maybe you’re willing to “give this an ear”, as they say in English. Maybe there have been a few true prophets, right? Maybe there is some kind of world other than the one we can see and feel and move around in daily. Maybe Jesus of Nazareth was more than just some carpenter from Israel that the Romans killed 2000 years ago.
Did Jesus say he would return to this world?
So you might wonder, “Did he really say that? Did Jesus say he would return to this world?”
Yes, he did. The night before he was arrested, he was in Jerusalem with his most trusted followers, privately celebrating with them the Jewish Passover. Here’s one of the things Jesus is recorded as telling his closest friends that night. “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.” 1
Jesus was telling them that he was about to leave them and go “somewhere else.” But he told them he would return so that they could be where he was. And it wasn’t like all of them totally understood what he was telling them. Far from it. In fact, he’d already told them repeatedly some months earlier that
The Son of Man [this is how Jesus referred to himself] will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.2
Did his followers understand that when he told them? No. The next thing the Bible says is “But they did not understand that saying and were afraid to ask Him.” 3
Even the closest followers of Jesus during his life on earth often just didn’t totally get what he was saying. It was not until after his death and resurrection, when he appeared to them again, repeatedly, that they began to get the full picture of what he truly was and what he taught.
But after he began to appear to them, after he rose from the dead… (Yes, I know, I’m asking you to believe another preposterous thing: Jesus rising from the dead!) Well, that’s what he told his followers would happen, that he’d be crucified and rise again, even though they didn’t understand it.
So after he rose from the dead, the followers were asking him if he was at that time going to establish his kingdom on earth4. It’s clear they were aware that something was still left to happen.
Jesus was with them for 40 days after his resurrection. Then the Bible says, He was taken up. And a cloud received Him out of their sight. 5
His followers were there and saw this happen. It goes on to say, And while they were looking intently into the heaven after Jesus had gone up, two men in white clothing [angels!] stood beside them, who said, “Why do you stand gazing up into the heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up into Heaven, will come in the way you have seen Him going into Heaven.” 6
So there it is again. He is going to come again. He was “taken up into Heaven”. But he is destined to return again to this world.
Maybe that’s a lot to swallow. Or at least a lot to think about. I know when I first read all this, or was taught it by someone who knew the Bible, it radically changed my whole outlook of life, reality and the world I lived in. Either this is all just completely crazy or it’s true. And I just didn’t feel inside of me that it was crazy. There was too much that I’d already experienced or seen that pointed towards these things being the actual experiences of people who saw all this and recorded it for everyone then and from then on.
And I guess it wasn’t just one time only when my viewpoints and earlier views of life were fundamentally challenged. There were a number of times when I was just left in shock and awe at what I read in the Bible. It took some time to digest it all, to ponder the significance of it for myself personally and for what it also meant to every person living in this world.
In the next post in this series, we’re going to look further at this whole concept of Jesus’ return to this world. What would it mean to all of us? What will the conditions be like when it happens? How would it change things? When will it happen? Our next class is called “Who is Armageddon anyway?”
Talk to you soon, Mark