What is Jesus Returning For?
What is Jesus Returning For?
When I was growing up, I attended a fundamentalist evangelical school. While I am grateful for many aspects of my Christian-based education (middle and high school), I have to say, it did not provide me a solid theological foundation for understanding, let alone, “loving” the appearing of Jesus—the Second Coming (2 Tim 4:8). Rather, the return of Jesus was something I greatly feared. The message of the imminent, secret coming of the Lord and rapture of the Church did not prepare me, nor did it impassion me. It simply motivated to make sure that my spiritual ducks were in a row so that when everyone disappeared, I would not be “left behind.” Fast forward to now.
God sovereignly interrupted me, causing me to radically rethink the return of Jesus. Because, you know, He is returning. Jesus is coming back! You can vote yes, you can vote no – your opinion will not shape the outcome of this prophecy coming to pass. I know that in this present age, there is an increasingly popular theology circulating that erroneously claims Jesus has already returned and that we are presently in the new heavens and the new earth. To that I reply, “If this is as good as it gets, we’re in trouble.”
What is Jesus Returning For?
While reviewing Luke 19:13 (KJV), the Holy Spirit began to open up the Parable of the Ten Servants to me. In this passage, Jesus instructs the servants: “Occupy till I come.” I was familiar with this command, being a strong proponent of our assignment to disciple nations and, as an ekklesia, to have a measurable impact on culture and society around us. But let’s dig deeper for a moment. We cannot isolate this command from the context of the Lord’s return, for the backdrop of the second coming of Jesus is what gives this command gravity and weight.
He said, “A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return. Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, ‘Invest this for me while I am gone” (Lk. 19:12-13, NLT).
A few thoughts to consider:
Jesus is returning. First, just as the nobleman was scheduled to return, likewise Jesus is going to return. Period. This should not fill us with fear, dread, or worry. Nor should it produce a culture of spiritual escapism, where we disengage from society and head for the hills (since, after all, Jesus is returning at any moment and society will utterly collapse). Jesus is coming back, yes, but this parable clearly shows us what kind of posture we should assume in the meantime.
Jesus is returning for something. Second, the nobleman gathered ten of his servants and gave them a commission—really, a commandment. He told them “invest this for me while I am gone.” The King James Version says “occupy until I come.” This is where the Spirit of God spoke to me prophetically about this parable. He said, “Jesus is returning for a return on His investment.” So I have to ask, what did Jesus invest into us?
What did Jesus Invest?
By no means is this list exhaustive, but it’s certainly a place for us to start. I ask you to consider what Jesus left us with in His absence.
He invested the Holy Spirit: Jesus told us that His departure would be to our advantage because He would be sending His very Spirit (Jn. 16:7). I heard one minister classify the Holy Spirit as “Jesus Unlimited.” When Jesus walked the Earth, the Spirit of God was confined to His body since Jesus was the only person in history that was perfectly compatible hosting the abiding Spirit of God. Following the cross, everything changed. The blood of Jesus made it possible for all believers to be cleansed of sin and thus, become a suitable resting place for the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit is God on Earth, operating in and through redeemed people. What are we doing with His Presence? Are we waiting for another “outpouring” to come down from Heaven? If so, we will be extremely disappointed. I am convinced a theology that holds to another outpouring of the Spirit being sovereignly sent from Heaven is misguided. Only One Man has yet to split the sky and come down from Heaven, the Son of Man Himself. Until that day, He has called us to be good investors of what (or Who) He has given to us. So, I ask the question, does the world look different because a people filled with the Spirit of God are present in society? If not, perhaps we don’t understand the commandment to invest and occupy until the King returns. Remember, Joel’s prophecy was that the Spirit would be poured out upon “all flesh,” not simply all church or all Christians. This does not guarantee the salvation of all people; it does, however, give us a target for our assignment. We should desire to see every sphere of influence, every corner and crevice of society, impacted by the outpouring of the Spirit, and I believe that His outpouring continues to flow through us, His Spirit-filled ambassadors.
He invested His Measure of Faith: Faith is not just an intellectual agreement with a concept or theology. Furthermore, faith is not simply naming, claiming, declaring or decreeing something. These might be small aspects of faith, sure, but if faith is not producing measurable, tangible results, I struggle to affirm the definition of faith we are currently entertaining. When Jesus returns to the Earth, Scripture tells us He will be looking to find faith, or more specifically, the evidence of our faith in action. The Judge will evaluate our faith based on the fruit it produced in the Earth. We see this in a startling statement right after the story of the persistent widow and unjust judge. I believe the widow in Luke 18:1-6 illustrates the kind of persistent, contending, not-giving-up faith that Jesus expects His people to be operating in, as it’s this approach that got this persistent widow a verdict from an unjust judge. Since our Judge is completely just, we have no excuse to live content with the absence of measurable results and answered prayers when it comes to our faith. Remember, faith is an investment from God into us: “as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). The King is returning and He is looking to “see” the fruit of our faith.
He invested prophetic words and promises: This has been the season I’ve been living in right now. God gave me a vision of the libraries in Heaven, filled with beautiful, yet dusty books. I felt the grief of the Lord over these books being present there, as I asked: “What are these books?” I sensed His reply, “These are the books of unfulfilled prophecy.” Within a millisecond, His grief shifted into an atmosphere of thunderous authority, as I sensed the very foot of God step into that library and then the wind of His Spirit blowing upon the books. The dust flew off and the pages starting opening, flapping in the wind of His Spirit. Even now, in the spirit, I see people “ascending” to enter these libraries. It’s not some hyper spiritual experience. You ascend and retrieve these books simply when you begin to remember what the Lord has spoken to you. Even now, sovereignly, the Lord is reminding you of “forgotten things,” promises and prophetic words that you shelved. They became “out of sight, out of mind.” Now, the Sovereign One, is bringing them to your recollection.
I see the Lord calling His sons and daughters to retrieve these books of unfulfilled prophecy, reminding themselves of those past promises and prophetic words, and re-engaging the Holy Spirit in conversations that will be destiny-defining. Prophetic words were never meant to be placed on a shelf to be forgotten; they are meant to be carried close to the heart. Prophetic words are not simply tools of encouragement; they are Heaven-initiated conversations between the Holy Spirit and His people. Prophetic words are assignments that demand our engagement. Yes, we entrust the times, seasons and specifics of their fulfillment to God; at the same time, we hold the words close to us, living in that state of conversation with the Holy Spirit about specifics we need to know or strategies we need to implement. This is being a good steward of what Jesus has invested in us.
When He Comes…
Jesus’ coming back is a fixed prophetic reality; in the meantime, the personal prophetic words we receive are conditional and demand stewardship. They need to be invested.