Sermon: Comparing the First and Second Comings of the Messiah (12.12.21)
Last week we started to explore not just Jesus first arrival, which we celebrate each year at Christmas, but also his upcoming second arrival, which we also await with great expectation. I thought we could go deeper in our understanding of these two events, and so this morning I’m going to compare and contrast them.
Luke 2 1:1-20
As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ first coming, let’s compare and contrast this event with his second coming. You might think that it’s too early to try to understand his second coming, or maybe you think it is overdue. But whatever you think, we learned in Revelation that he will come, and that it will be like a thief in the night without any advance warning.
Let’s start by identifying what’s different about these two events.
1. In his first coming, Jesus humbled himself. He arrived almost unnoticed—especially to those who had understood the OT prophecies regarding the Messiah. In his second coming, Jesus returns as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
2. In his first coming, Jesus came as the Lamb of God. In the second coming, he returns as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah-a triumphal leader sent to conquer all evil.
3. First coming, no one except his parents knew who he was, and it took them many years to more fully understand Jesus as the Son of Man. Perhaps they came into a full understanding when they found him as a 12-year-old preaching in the temple. In the second coming, no one will mistake who Jesus really is—part of the godhead and savior of the world.
4. Since almost no one understood the baby as Messiah, only a few wise men and shepherds came to bow down and worship him. When Jesus returns, every knee will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11 recognizing that in Jesus, they experienced the glory of the Father).
5. When Jesus first arrived, his safety was fragile as Herod was looking to remove any potential threats to his power. Jesus escaped Herod. When Jesus arrives next, his safety is secure but Satan’s hold on the world is fragile, and the clock starts ticking on his influence and power. Satan is no longer safe to operate as he has done for centuries.
6. When Jesus first arrived, he came alone as a single, vulnerable, human being. Revelation says that when Jesus returns the next time, he will be accompanied by elders, angels, and hundreds of thousands of believers.
We could summarize the differences between Jesus’ first and second coming in two words: Humility and Glory! Jesus first came in humility to teach and educate and to establish himself as the promised Messiah. The next time he comes, he will come prepared to do battle with Satan and his forces of evil and to finally conquer sin once and for all time.
Is there anything similar when we look at the Messiah’s first and second coming? You might think that after discussing the differences, they are two distinctly different events. Is there anything similar?
1. Jesus arrives both times without sin and in the Spirit. Jesus came the first time to stand-in for our sins and through his death, to wipe them away. He took the weight of sin on himself. When Jesus arrives next, Jesus will eliminate sin for all eternity.
2. Jesus fulfilled all the OT scriptures and prophecies regarding the Messiah when he came as man. Jesus will fulfill all the OT and NT prophecies regarding his second coming when he returns.
3. Jesus was largely ignored and despised during his time on earth. When he returns, there will still be those unbelievers who fall prey to Satan’s lies and even with multiple chances, reject God.
4. Jesus’ arrival will be unexpected. Although prophecies provide us guidance, no one knows the dates and times of his arrival. The Jewish scholars missed it. His return will occur likely when we least expect it, but I’m pretty confident that this time, no one will miss it!
While it is easier to list differences between these two events, we can summarize the similarities as both events being foretold by prophecies, both originated from the actions of Adam and Eve and original sin, they both involve the physical appearance of Jesus, and they both are centered on the Jerusalem and the land of the Jews.
Friends, what can we take away from understanding the two comings of our Messiah?
Hope and Comfort: The return of the Lord is our blessed hope. The promise of eternal life with our Lord is our great comfort.
Holiness and Action: Knowing what we learn, we should strengthen and prepare ourselves in the Word.
Prayer and Watchfulness: If we believe in the second coming, we should pray and watch for it.
Love and Praise: Doing the work of the Lord in this earthly kingdom shows our love and thanks to the Lord.
I think that these takeaways should guide our celebration of Christmas and the arrival of Jesus, while also giving us the perspective and guidance about what to do next.