Jesus Christ's Unfinished Business

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Jesus Christ's Unfinished Business

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It's difficult to imagine the emotions the apostles must have felt the day they watched the resurrected Jesus Christ ascend into the clouds (Acts 1:9 Acts 1:9And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
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). They had watched and waited their whole lives for the Messiah, expecting Him to liberate the Jewish people from the heavy hand of Rome. Instead, they had watched Him die.

But they had also seen Him in His resurrected form, and He spoke with them, taught them and encouraged them over the course of 40 days (verse 3). Now He had disappeared upward into the clouds. Two men, apparently angels, promised them He would return in the same manner He had left.

From that time to the present, Christianity has awaited Christ's second coming.

You've likely heard that Jesus will return to earth. But have you ever asked why? What will He do after He returns? How will His return affect the world? We need to understand the answers to these questions.

Jesus' teaching role

When we look back at Christ's human life on earth nearly 2,000 years ago, perhaps the most important title we could ascribe to Him is that of Teacher. When the Pharisee Nicodemus came to see Jesus, he said, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God" (John 3:2 John 3:2The same came to Jesus by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that you do, except God be with him.
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). The word rabbi literally means "master"—the title of respect by which teachers were commonly addressed. Nicodemus recognized what Jesus' disciples already knew: He was a wonderfully gifted teacher.

The men who eventually became apostles in the Church Jesus founded were first called to be disciples—that is, students. Jesus called each of them from a trade or craft to learn to do something different. They spent 3 1/2 years with the Master Teacher learning to become "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19 Matthew 4:19And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
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The Bible records that Jesus spent considerable time and energy teaching. Not only did He instruct the disciples and occasionally men in leadership positions such as Nicodemus, but He frequently taught crowds of the general public, anyone who came to hear Him. "Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people" (Matthew 9:35 Matthew 9:35And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
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As we have already seen, after His death and resurrection Jesus repeatedly met with His disciples during the 40 days before His ascension to heaven, still teaching them more about the Kingdom of God and how to take the message of the Kingdom to the rest of the world.

Christ is not yet finished with His role as Teacher. He left behind some important unfinished business and will return to earth —perhaps in the near future—to complete it.

Today's war-torn world

One of the elements most lacking in our world is peace—peace between nations, peace between ethnic groups, peace within families. The words of the prophet Isaiah have never been truer: "The way of peace they have not known ..." (Isaiah 59:8 Isaiah 59:8The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whoever goes therein shall not know peace.
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). Lasting peace seems an unreachable goal. Whether we try to gain it by force, alliances, diplomacy or ignoring a problem, peace is elusive—and around the world the body count continues to climb.

According to Christ's own words, the pattern of violence and suffering will only increase until the time of His return. "It [the end time] will be a time of great distress, such as there has never been before since the beginning of the world, and will never be again. If that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive ..." (Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22 [21] For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. [22] And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
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, Revised English Bible).

Jesus Himself foretold a time of violence so intense that, if left unchecked, the human race would eventually release the full horror and fury of its weapons of mass destruction, resulting in total destruction, the annihilation of life on the planet.

It is during this time of world war that Christ will return to take control of world events and stop humanity from destroying itself (Matthew 24:21 Matthew 24:21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
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; Revelation 16:14-16 Revelation 16:14-16 [14] For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. [15] Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. [16] And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
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). This He will do quickly and decisively. No weapon or army will be able to overcome the supernatural power of the Creator. Jesus Christ, the very One who brought the universe into existence by His infinite power (Colossians 1:16 Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
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; Hebrews 1:1-2 Hebrews 1:1-2 [1] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, [2] Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
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), will, at this time, intervene to snuff out this horrible war.

In short order the guns of this world's armies will fall silent, and bombs and missiles will cease to fall (Revelation 19:11-21 Revelation 19:11-21 [11] And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. [12] His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. [13] And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. [14] And the armies which were in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. [15] And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. [16] And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. [17] And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the middle of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together to the supper of the great God; [18] That you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. [19] And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. [20] And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. [21] And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat on the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
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). The massive military forces gathered for a momentous final battle will in moments cease to fight. With that taken care of, Jesus' world-transforming work will begin!

Crucial missing knowledge

God told the prophet Hosea, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6 Hosea 4:6My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me: seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.
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). The weight of human experience has proven beyond doubt that the knowledge of how we are to live has been missing. The history of mankind is scarred with hatred, conflict, betrayal and war. Christ will need to introduce to human beings the way to peace and harmony with each other.

It is this knowledge that Jesus, the Master Teacher, will bring to all mankind, and this knowledge will transform the world!

Isaiah wrote of this future world: "Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3 Isaiah 2:3And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
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Men, women, boys and girls will realize, perhaps for the first time, their need to understand how to live in peace and harmony. They will realize that the source of that knowledge, the Teacher who can help them, is the now-returned Jesus Christ!

What will Jesus teach? Isaiah, we've seen, told us He would teach "the law" and "the word of the Lord." But what law? The law Jesus will teach is none other than the law God gave Israel, the law He summarized in what we know as the Ten Commandments.

These commandments, which form the foundation for all the statutes and judgments God issued, show us how to express love for God and our fellow man. If we study and follow these laws, they will show us how to live and will guide us into peace and harmony.

A world transformed

Just imagine how many family problems would be eliminated if no one committed adultery—or if parents and children treated each other with respect and dignity, rather than with anger and dishonor. What if every husband and every wife responded with love and the deepest of respect to every family-relations problem, rather than with cruel words and abuse?

How would your life change if you no longer spent so much time, energy and financial resources trying to secure your home and possessions because no one coveted or tried to steal them?

What if nations no longer had to worry about national security because no one tried to steal another nation's territory or resources? How much could be accomplished if the energy and resources poured into military buildups and intelligence gathering could be channeled into peaceful projects?

How many of history's wars rooted in a clash of religions would never have happened if everyone worshiped the same God—the one true God—with the same understanding and religious practices and learned to love others with the same care and concern with which they loved themselves?

Isaiah paints a picture of just such a world. After describing God's law going forth to all nations, he writes: "He [Jesus, the Messiah] shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (verse 4).

Part of the job of a teacher is to correct wrong behavior. Some nations and their citizens will apparently need a little more correction than others. But soon all peoples everywhere will turn their weapons of death and destruction into useful implements for agriculture and industry. Rather than destroying, these tools will be used to build.

Utopian peace

When respect, honor and love are the standards for human conduct, the world will see an unprecedented time of peace and prosperity. No longer will a person's retirement account be wiped out by the greed of unscrupulous corporate officers. Never again will a widow's meager life savings be taken by a con artist. Rather, to a good old age men and women will enjoy the fruit of their labors and watch their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up in peace and safety (Isaiah 65:20-23 Isaiah 65:20-23 [20] There shall be no more there an infant of days, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. [21] And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. [22] They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and my elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. [23] They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
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In this utopian world, God will even supernaturally change the nature of the animal kingdom to reflect the peace and harmony extant among men. "'The wolf and
the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,' says the Lord" (verse 25).

Even the city of Jerusalem, which today is a center of violence and conflict, will enjoy peace and security. "Thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing ...'" (Zechariah 8:4-5 Zechariah 8:4-5 [4] Thus said the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. [5] And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
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The present-day conflict between Jews and Arabs will be but a distant and fading memory because all will live together with respect and dignity. No nation or league of nations on earth today can bring about this peace. It will take the power and wisdom of the returning Jesus Christ!

Closer than ever

When Christ returns, we will have much work to do. Mankind will be on the brink of self-destruction, with no hope in sight. The Messiah will directly intervene to stop that titanic war and begin the work of reeducating the human beings He already gave His life to save.

The laws of God, recorded but ignored for centuries, will be widely taught as the law of the land; everyone will live by them. Ultimately "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4 Revelation 21:4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
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). This is the incredible future Jesus will usher in.

We are closer than ever to these wonderful events. God's promises are certain, and this future is coming as surely as the sun rises and sets. Every day brings us closer.

It's difficult to imagine the emotions the apostles must have felt as they watched the resurrected Christ ascend into the clouds. But they knew He would return—and their faith was unwavering. They looked forward to a world without misery, a world led and taught by the same Master Teacher from whom they themselves had learned. The future does have a wonderful hope—God speed that glorious day! GN