God's plan all along was that Jesus Christ would come to earth two times. The first time, He came as our Savior to die for our sins. The second time, He will come as Lord of all creation to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth.
His disciples asked Him this, and He said to them, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority." (Acts 1:7) We do not know when Jesus will return to this earth; what is important is how we live in the meantime. Christ told us we are to love God and to love others. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We are to witness to the world -- to tell others about Jesus. We are to be kind, and loving, and filled with the fruits of His Holy Spirit.
Though we don’t know when Jesus will return, we do know many things about what will happen when He does return. While the first time He was a suffering servant, this next time He will return as the King of Kings. He will come leading the armies of heaven to make victorious war against the forces of evil on this earth. Those days are described by John:
"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. 'He will rule them with an iron scepter.' He treads the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." (Revelation 19:11-16)
There will be a final day of judgment. As John describes, "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from His presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found to be written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-15)
John says: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'
"He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then He said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'
"He said to me: 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son.'" (Revelation 21:1-7)
The material world -- clothes, cars, people, and finances -- seem very real to us, but the spiritual world is unseen. In heaven, we will truly understand how real the spiritual world is. In that world, Jesus Christ will reign as King and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Our challenge now is to love and serve Christ when the eternal is not apparent and when doing good is not always rewarded. But, we should do so knowing that the same Christ who we worship at Christmas will someday reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. "For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end." (Isaiah 9:6-7)
This is the Jesus we worship: The one who was born in Bethlehem; grew to become a man; who taught, loved, healed, and cared for thousands; who sacrificed Himself to die for our sins -- this is the same Christ who will one day return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His kingdom of love and peace and joy will last for all eternity. He is something better for us now, and He provides something better for us for eternity. Let us accept His invitation and worship Him today.