“I Will Come Again” :: By Paul J. Scharf

This week, the Western world pauses to remember the birth of the One who divided time and all of history by His first coming—our Savior and the Messiah of Israel, Jesus Christ.

As we stop and worship this baby in Bethlehem’s manger once again, let us remember that He, eternal God, came to Earth to become a man, to die for our sins, and to rise again. The events of Christmas were an essential step in that process, but, of course, they do not tell the full story.

Even a focus on His entire first coming—as vitally important as that is—does not tell us everything about this Jesus, God in human flesh. For, just as He came once, He assured us clearly, “I will come again” (John 14:3).

We know that His first coming spanned a period of roughly 33 years, and the four gospel writers gave us their complementary viewpoints on all of its essential aspects. His second coming will unfold throughout a period of at least seven years and includes two major phases—the rapture of the church (see 1 Thess. 4:13-18) and the final return in glory (see Rev. 19:11-16).

There are both similarities and dissimilarities as we compare and contrast these two comings of Christ.

At His first coming, He was surrounded by angels (see Luke 2:9-13), and so it will be at His return (see Matt. 24:31; 25:31; 2 Thess. 1:7).

Likewise, the Shekinah glory cloud marked His first coming (see Matt. 2:2, 9; Luke 2:9) and will also be a vital part of His return (see “clouds” in 1 Thess. 4:17; cf. Dan. 7:13; Matt. 24:30; 25:31; 26:64). He showed just a brief glimpse of that glory on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:32; cf. Matt. 17:1-9).

But, for the most part, Jesus’ glory was hidden during “the days of His flesh” (Heb. 5:7). Yes, “we beheld His glory” (John 1:14), but only as we recognized Him as the eternal Son of God. It was normally manifested more humbly—by means of His being “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). As Charles Wesley stated in arguably the most doctrinally rich Christmas hymn ever written:

… veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail the incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.[i]

But, when He returns, His full glory will be unveiled. Just as Daniel saw Christ in His pre-incarnate glory (see Dan. 10:5-9), so the entire world will experience His resurrected and exalted glory when He returns. We observe that when the Apostle John received just a preview of it (see Rev. 1:12-16), the response was immediate and drastic: “… when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead” (Rev. 1:17).

Indeed, “He was crucified in weakness” (2 Cor. 13:4), but “He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb. 9:28).

We often refer to the centuries between the testaments as the 400 silent years. They were definitely silent with regard to the fact that no new inspired Scripture was being revealed. But God was far from absent during this time (see Dan. 8:5-14; 11:1-35). He was, in fact, setting the stage for the first coming of Christ. He was “[working] all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11) and assembling “all things … together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28).

When Christ did finally come, “the people were in expectation” (Luke 3:15). It was, indeed, “the fullness of the time” (Gal. 4:4).

Likewise, I believe that we today are witnessing God setting the stage for Christ’s second coming—through an intricate array of world events developing before us, which will finally be fulfilled during the coming tribulation period (see Matt. 24:3-44).

As we wait at the manger this week to reflect on Christ’s first coming, may we also take time to look up to the skies and remember that He certainly is coming again—imminently and personally, for every believer, just as He promised.

Merry Christmas!


Paul J. Scharf (M.A., M.Div., Faith Baptist Theological Seminary) is a church ministries representative for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, based in Columbus, WI, and serving in the Midwest. For more information on his ministry, visit sermonaudio.com/pscharf or foi.org/scharf, or email pscharf@foi.org.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.

[i] Charles Wesley; “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” verse 2. Public domain. Taken from “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing;” Hymnary.org; n.d.; https://hymnary.org/text/hark_the_herald_angels_sing_glory_to; Internet; accessed 21 December 2023.