Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Matthew 25 and the return of Christ

A few more comments following on from the last post....

Matt 25 contains three parables Jesus tells just before the cross. They all focus, surprisingly, not upon the cross, but upon Jesus's return. This is somewhat surprising as one might expect Jesus to teach here on how one is to live in light of the cross, yet as the cross approaches he seems to focus more and more on His coming again. The pattern of discipleship that is laid out here is all in light of His return. He is going but He will return - and that fact leads to a distinctly different lifestyle.

It reminds us that the gospel does not end with the cross or even the resurrection/exaltation - it is concluded by the return of Jesus. It is only when Jesus has come back to restore all things and bring in the fullness of the kingdom that God's plan has been fulfilled. It is only then that all things are brought back under one head. It is, therefore, amazing that no real gospel presentation I have heard (or made myself) has ever mentioned the return of the Lord Jesus. It is normally something like Jesus has dealt with our sins so i can be forgiven and have a restored relationship with God. What do I lose by this? I lose Christ-centredness and I individualize the plan of God. The gospel is really about ME!

The fact that Jesus speaks like this also reminds me that the cross is not the goal, but the means to the goal. It is not the end, but the vital step towards the end. The point of the cross is a positive one: salvation in every sense of the word in a new creation and kingdom under the rule of the 'returned' Lord Jesus. If liberals want to remove propitiation from the gospel, then we can be in danger of reducing the gospel to propitiation. How often I hear something like "Jesus died to take the punishment for our sins" as a summary of what Jesus did on the cross. That is an absolutely wonderful and fearful truth, but He died for much more than that! The focus on the return of Jesus reminds us of that.