“This same Jesus that has been taken from you into Heaven will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into Heaven” Acts 1:11

In the Western Church, the season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day and thus for 2016 on Sunday 27th November. Advent is part of the Church Calendar and unlike Easter or Pentecost is a traditional rather than a Biblical festival. It is however of real value for it provides us with the opportunity to reflect on the two comings of the Lord Jesus (Advent is the Latin word for ‘coming’). Thus at Advent we think about Jesus’ first coming into our world to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) and we think about His return when “He will appear a second time to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him” (Hebrews 9:28). In this article our focus is on this second coming of Jesus as described in Acts chapter 1, a God-given promise that Jesus will indeed return as Lord and King.


There are several things that strike one in reading Acts 1:1-11. First, one is struck by the reference to the ‘convincing proofs’ of His own resurrection that Jesus Himself provided by His numerous appearances to eyewitnesses (1:3). Second, one is struck by the promise of and the result of, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the first fulfilled on the day of Pentecost and the second continuing to be fulfilled to this day as the Spirit empowers God’s people to bear witness to the resurrected Christ (1:4-8). Third, one is struck by the allusion to Daniel 7 and the taking up of the Son of Man in the clouds, a reference to the heavenly enthronement of the Son of Man and His consequent authority over all nations (1:9; cf Daniel 7:13-14). Fourth, and most significantly for our purposes, one is struck by the certain promise of Jesus’ return, a promise delivered by the angelic messengers and therefore carrying the authority of the Lord Himself (1:11).


In regard to this certain promise that Jesus ‘will come back’, it is also worth noting the use of the word ‘same’. In verse 11 the disciples are assured that the Jesus who will come back is the ‘same Jesus’ who had risen and appeared to them. They (and we) are thus reminded that the world to come will not be a merely spiritual, immaterial world – a new Heaven – but a real, renewed, re-created world in which all of God’s people will enjoy resurrection life in a new Heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.  The return of the resurrected Christ ensures our own future resurrection and the real reality of the world to come.


But the disciples are also assured that this same Jesus will return in the same way that they saw Him go into Heaven. This surely means that Jesus’ return will be public and visible rather than private and hidden. Just as these people were eyewitnesses of His ascension, so every eye will see Him at His return (Revelation 1:7). But Jesus’ return in the same way also implies a reference to the clouds of verse 9. In Daniel 7 the Son of Man ‘coming with the clouds’ was associated with the Son of Man’s entrance into the Divine Presence and His receipt from the Ancient of Days of all authority over all nations. ‘Coming with the clouds’ is thus synonymous with world-wide authority and rule, a rule which Jesus receives in God’s presence at His ascension into Heaven (see Acts 2:36). What Jesus’ return ‘on the clouds’ thus signifies is that this heavenly rule of the Son of Man will at last be manifested not only in Heaven but also on earth. Thus when He returns ‘on the clouds’, the kingdom of the world will at last become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He will reign forever and ever (Revelation 11:15).


The final thing for us to note from this important passage is the response that the Lord expects from those who are waiting for His return. For the Jesus who rose, ascended and will return is the same Jesus who entered our world to die for sinners. Advent reminds us that the first and the second coming of Jesus are inseparably connected in the Person and Mission of Jesus. Thus while we wait for His return, we work for the extension of His Kingdom through the worldwide proclamation of His death and resurrection. Those who wait are called to witness. This is our responsibility and our very great privilege.


Written by Mervyn Eloff. Original article can be found here.