Some Christians are fanatical about biblical prophecy. They have an unhealthy fixation with the future, end-times, and Second Coming. It is easy to mock the caricature of the person who goes overboard about prophecy. But those who fit that category are few and far between. There are many more Christians who ignore the subject altogether. They have their heads in the sand, unable or unwilling to look up. The neglect of biblical prophecy is as bad as the abuse of it, maybe worse.
The Old Testament is filled with prophecies of the coming of Christ. Did you know it is also filled with prophecies of his second coming? There are 1,845 predictions of the second coming in the Old Testament. There are 318 references to the second coming in the 260 chapters of the New Testament – 1 out of every 30 verses. For every reference to the first Advent of Christ, there are eight references to his Second Advent.
The Great Commission instructs us to teach new disciples all Christ has commanded. Christian discipleship, by necessity, includes a study of the second coming. It is a subject that Jesus addressed and affirmed many times. Mark 13:24-27 is a key passage about the Second Coming.
As Jesus departed the temple in Jerusalem for the last time, he predicted the temple would be destroyed. As they sat on the Mount of Olives, the inner circle asked follow-up questions in Mark 13:4: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of when all these things are about to be accomplished?”
Verses 5-37 record the Lord’s answer to the disciples’ questions. The last days would be hard days. It would culminate with a time of great tribulation. That would not be the end of the story. The Lord Jesus Christ will come again to judge the wicked, gather his people, and consummate the kingdom. That is the message of Mark 12:24-27: Jesus is coming again!
In 1996, George Tulloch led a team to the 1812 Titanic wreckage beneath the Atlantic. They sought to lift a twenty-ton section with fuel-filled balloons. But two hundred feet from the surface, the cords snapped, and it fell back to the bottom of the ocean. Before departing, however, he painted these words on a piece of the wreckage: “I will return – George Tulloch.” The world is a wreck. But Jesus has left a message: “I will return.”
- He will not raise the wreckage of this fallen world.
- The Lord Jesus Christ will make all things news.
Do you believe Jesus is coming again? Jesus declared he will come again. Verses 24-27 teach three facts about that glorious day.
The magnitude of Christ’s return will be universal.
Verse 24 begins with two time references. “In those days” is prophetic language for divine intervention.
- “Those days” are not just any days.
- “Those days” are the end of days.
We do not know when “those days” will be. But Jesus gives a frame of reference: “after that tribulation.” The Great Tribulation will precede the end. It will be the darkest period of human history. Verse 19 says, “For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be.” But Jesus is coming again! The magnitude of Christ’s return will be universal.
Darkness on Earth. The language Jesus uses in this passage is saturated with Old Testament imagery. Some of those allusions may be figurative. I believe Jesus uses the language to describe a literal event. You do not know what climate change is if you do not understand the second coming. Verse 24 says, “The sun will be darkened.” The sun is the centerpiece of our solar system. But there will be a total eclipse. The entire planet will go dark. Because the moon reflects the sun’s light, “the moon will not give its light.” Day and night will be enveloped in darkness.
Genesis 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
- There was deep darkness before God created the world.
- There will be deep darkness before Jesus comes again.
Dismay in heaven. Verse 25 adds: “And the stars will be falling from heaven.” This cosmic disruption will dislodge the stars. Like meteors, the stars will fall from the heavens one after another. 2 Peter 3:10 says, “The heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved.” The last line of verse 26 summarizes this global upheaval: “And the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” “Powers” may refer to the forces of nature – like gravity. Or it may refer to what Ephesians 6:12 calls “the cosmic powers over this present darkness.”
The powers in the heavens will be “shaken.” It is the word used in Acts 16:26 for the earthquake that shook the Philippian jail. The effects of this shake-up will be terrifying. Luke 21:25-26 says, “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
The majesty of Christ’s return will be unmistakable.
Verse 26 is a simple, direct, and graphic prediction of the second coming: “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” What will the second coming of Jesus Christ be like?
Jesus will return visibly. When a landmark censorship case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1964, Justice Potter Stewartstated his threshold test for obscenity: “I know it when I see it.” Stewart’s famous expression tells us what it will be like when Jesus comes again. Verses 21-22 says, “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.” There will be no deception when Jesus comes.
Verse 27 says, “And then they will see the Son of man.” “They” obviously refers to everyone. Revelation 1:7 says, “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.” The second coming will not be a secret, mystery, or private screening. Everyone will see Jesus when he comes. Matthew 24:30 says, “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Jesus will return physically. Verse 26 says, “And then they will see the Son of Man.” “Son of Man” is Jesus’ favorite self-identification. It occurs in Mark’s Gospel fourteen times. The term was a provocative way of Jesus affirming his humanity and deity. Mark 8:31 says, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed.” Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Here Jesus says they will see the Son of Man coming again.
- The Second Coming is not a reference to his resurrection from the dead on Easter.
- The Second Coming is not a reference to the Holy Spirit coming on the day of Pentecost.
- The Second Coming is not a reference to the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70.
- The Second Coming is not a reference to his coming into the hearts of those who believe.
- The Second Coming is not a reference to Christians going to be with him in death.
Jesus is coming literally, historically, and bodily. Acts 1:9-11 says, “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Jesus will return triumphantly. Verse 26 says, “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” The consistent teaching of the New Testament is that Jesus will come “in clouds.” It affirms the deity of Christ. On the clouds is how God travels. Psalm 104:3 says God “makes the clouds his chariots.” These will not be storm clouds. It will be the Shekinah – the manifest presence of God.
Verse 26 says he will come “in clouds with great power and glory.” “Power” is the ability to get things done. Jesus will not negotiate. He will ruleand reign. “Glory” is the sum total of his divine attributes. His goodness, graciousness, and greatness will be on full display to the watching world. Here’s the bottom-line: The next time won’t be like the last time.
- He came as a little baby; he will come as a conquering King.
- He came in swaddling clothes; he will come robed in majesty.
- He came in humility; he will come in honor.
- He came despised and rejected; he will come as the fairest of 10,000.
- He came meek and lowly; he will come high and lifted up.
- He came wearing a crown of thorns; He will come crowned in glory.
- He came to die on a cross; He will come to sit on a throne.
- He came to redeem the saints; he will come to rapture the saints.
- He came as Savior; He will come as Judge.
- He came to seek and to save; He will come to rule and reign.
- He came as a lowly servant; he is coming as exalted Lord.
The mission of Christ’s return will be undefeatable.
- Verse 26 declares the supremacy of Christ.
- Verse 27 declares the sovereignty of Christ.
Verse 27 says, “And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.” What will Jesus do when he comes again? The New Testamentteaches a lot of things will happen when Jesus returns. But verse 27 focuses on a singular mission that unfolds in two acts.
The sending of the angels. Verse 27 says, “And then he will send out the angels.” When Jesus comes again, he will be arrayed by an army of holy angels. He will send out the angels on a mission. Cults claim that Jesus is one of the angels. The Bible says Jesus is the Lord of the angels. Hebrews 1:13-14 says Jesus is greater than the angels: “And to which of the angels has he ever said, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?”
The gathering of the elect. Verse 27 says, “And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.” The “elect” are the chosen, blessed, and redeemed – Jews and Gentiles. After the Great Tribulation, Jesus will come again. He will the angels to gather his chosen ones. His first concern will be the security of his elect. This gathering will be total, complete, and global. None of the elect will be left behind.
John 14:1-2 says: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if go and prepare a place for you, I will come again to take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Mark 13:28-37 raises one question: Will you be ready? 2 Peter 1:10 says, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election.” If you are unsaved, you will suffer eternal punishment. There is only one hope of salvation. John 14:6 says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”