Eschatology is the “doctrine of last things.” It is a fascinating topic that has captivated believers for centuries. In the 1900’s the subject generated more heat than light as some people argued about the finer details and missed the point. The problem with prophesy is the problem with a lot of theology, we tend to obsess over the minor and miss the major. I grew up in what we would call a “dispensational” church. We celebrated “The Book, the Blood and the Blessed Hope.” The Blessed Hope being the imminent return of Christ at the rapture. It’s nobody’s fault but my own but I was shocked when I learned that there were Christians, genuine believers, brothers and sisters in Christ that didn’t believe what we believed about the rapture. Some didn’t even believe in the rapture at all! How could this be? After further study and a lot of discussion, I realized that the case for “our position” is not a slam dunk. I still like our position and hope it is right but I don’t hold it with the same certainty that I hold to other doctrines. Here’s what I’d like to embrace with a bit more tenacity; that who we are becoming right now matters when Jesus comes. I plan to mention this on Sunday but 1 John 3:2,3 reads, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” All who have the confidence that Jesus is coming back need to be giving themselves to the same thing; “purifying self.” It means to concentrate on our sanctification, our character, our likeness to Jesus the Savior. Don’t worry too much about the timing of your departure, concentrate on being ready to go!
That’s what Gabriel said to Mary about the Son that the Holy Spirit would place in her womb. According to commentator Albert Barnes, the word “great” means, “distinguished, illustrious, great in power, wisdom and dominion on earth and in Heaven.” We use the word “great” like we use the word “awesome.” We sing “How Great Thou Art,” and “Our God is an Awesome God,” and then talk about an awesome catch in a football game and a great hamburger. I’m not sure what we can do about this since we have very few designated words for God’s transcendent glory. Jesus is GREAT because He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. He reigns over a kingdom that will never end. He is the Judge of all the earth. He is actually greater than most of us recognize. I like what N.T. Wright wrote, if we really looked into the matter, “The Jesus we would discover is larger, more disturbing and more urgent than we had imagined.” Yes, He’s that great. Even though Mary had a lot of questions, she chose to participate in the Messiah’s birth. She understood that God’s greatness left only one logical choice, “May it be unto me according to your word.” That sounds a lot like what her Son would teach later on about how to pray, “Thy will be done.” It’s the greatness and goodness of Jesus the Christ that calls us to worship filled obedience. What are you waiting for?