But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.– 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 [ESV]
Maybe you’ve seen the bumper sticker, “Jesus is coming back, and boy is he mad!” You really couldn’t blame Jesus if he is mad, angry, frustrated, and put out with us all. The world is spinning out of control under our watch. Here we are to have dominion over the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, the livestock and everything that moves along the face of the earth. And look at it. I don’t subscribe to the idea that every weather upheaval, polar icecap melting, climate change issue is man’s fault. But I do wonder if we’re being the caretakers we’re supposed to be. When you have islands of discarded plastic floating in the ocean, toxic waste belched into the air, and rain forest denuding in the scale we see today: we are doing that. I’m convinced that’s not a good thing.
Then look at how marriages are sabotaged, children are forgotten or worse, women are trafficked, and immorality and indecency of every kind is celebrated in our streets. Lord, have mercy!
But Jesus isn’t mad. At least there is little Scriptural witness to such anger. Yes, he did overturn the tables of the money changers in Jerusalem – twice, no less! But that’s not the greatest witness of Jesus’ demeanor. Look at him with the children. See him bless the woman who dared to touch the hem of his garment. Listen to him speak to the woman caught in adultery. Jesus is gracious. He was, during his life on earth, the epitome of humility and servanthood.
But one day he will return, with all his angels. The “cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God” signals his return in victory over all the forces of evil. Immorality will see it’s sad, sad end. Slavery of every kind will be abolished. Forgotten and ill-treated will be restored. Those who suffer will be comforted. Those who have held true to the faith will be vindicated. The dead will be raised. We, too, will be caught up into the clouds. We will all be with Jesus in eternal joy, praise, glory, celebration, and delight.
No, Jesus isn’t mad. He’s interceding for us before the Father’s throne. He is awaiting that glorious day when the new heaven and the new earth will be revealed and, truly…all will be right with the world. Come, Lord Jesus, return in triumphant splendor! Amen.