Because of what Jesus said to a rich young ruler, the man walked away feeling discouraged and downtrodden. The words of our Savior may have the same initial effect upon us, but believing Jesus says what He says to us because He loves us and only wants what is best for our lives produces the trust we need to come to Him and thrive in our relationship with God. After the conversation between Christ and the young man, Jesus said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven.
It is discouraging for anyone to feel trapped by impossibility. Trusting in God’s love and relying upon His word of grace bridges the gap between the seemingly impossible and the reality of His promise to us. All who came before us had to trust God’s will even though they did not fully understand it. Trusting the Lord, however, produces the great benefit of growing our faith and confidence in Him, so that He will bring about His word in His perfect way and perfect time. All who open their hearts to the word of God in Christ are welcome to Him and made well by His message of love and purpose.
The disciples wondered about this and asked Jesus if it would be possible for anyone to enter heaven. The whole exchange between Jesus and the young man, the man’s response, and the disciples question drew attention to the well-message of Jesus to all. What is impossible with man is possible with God. What discourages us may be what the Lord wants to move us forward into close relationship with Himself, so we can enjoy the fellowship and rewards of faithfulness to Christ in preparation for eternity in His presence.
Seeing the impossible coming to pass takes trust. God intentionally shrouded the word of His Messiah with mystery in the Old Testament even to those who sought it diligently, until the perfect time arrived to pull back the curtain and reveal His glory in His unique Son Jesus. Moses, David, Abraham, Jacob, Ruth, Daniel, and all the other examples of the faith put their hope in Christ though they could not see Him nor fully understand God’s plan. Despite not comprehending when the Holy Spirit in them was indicating the Savior of Israel would appear, they put their faith in His word.
Consequently, we can learn from their faith to live daily in a trustful relationship with our Savior to be prepared for His second coming.
God’s daily word to us contributes to an ongoing, living hope and anticipation of Christ’s reign. His word contains huge implications, some realized now and some to be fully realized when God chooses to reveal Christ from heaven for the second time.
To illustrate, think of Simeon, the devout man who lived at the time Jesus was born. Having been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had beheld the holy One of God, he lived with hope and faith. Then, when the time was right, Simeon appeared by the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem, where he held in his arms the Savior of the world.
God, in allowing Simeon to behold Jesus, teaches that when the Holy Spirit truly speaks to us, and as we continue in the Spirit, we will be in the right place at the right time for the revelation of the Son of God if it is to happen in our lifetime. God affirms His word and leads us in real life and in real time.
Although we know Simeon arrived in the Holy Spirit at the temple in Jerusalem, we don’t know when God had spoken to him about seeing the Messiah. Regardless of whether he had heard from God, days, months, or years prior to seeing Jesus, when he held the Savior as a baby in his arms, Simeon knew then he could die in peace having seen God’s salvation, for God’s perfect time for him to behold Jesus had arrived. God has the perfect sequence of events in order to bring about His will in our lives and to unite our will with His.
The words of Jesus to us, and His work in us, are completely consistent with His return, whenever that may be. The way the Holy Spirit leads us affirms His word to us now and gives us sure hope for the future. We presently experience God’s will, even sometimes with great power, yet the details of Christ’s return remain cryptic and may continue to be veiled until the full maturity of time. It shouldn’t be surprising if, when Christ appears in the clouds, that we say, “Ahh, now I get it, that’s how it was supposed to happen.”
If we are living in the light of Christ’s return, our daily experience of walking with God through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is consistent with the return of Jesus. For instance, we who believe in Jesus are shielded, as the apostle Peter said, in the power of God through faith for the salvation ready to be revealed from heaven in the Last Time. God, by the power of the cross, now tabernacles over those achieving victory. He is now our canopy of protection from the burning sun and scorching heat. That promise is not only for the future but our hope in the present. In addition, we are being made ready for the complete fulfillment of His word at the return of Christ.
Another example of experiencing God’s word in anticipation of Christ’s return is deliverance from the fear of God’s judgment. The love of God, experienced in its perfect state, prevails against all our fears even despite God’s full knowledge of our weaknesses. Those who are overcoming need not fear God’s judgment, for they are overcoming by the love of God, which is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We are in a no lose situation. This is a huge comfort as now the foundations of both heaven and earth are being shaken, imagery clearly associated with the return of Jesus.
Who would doubt that a great shaking is now taking place? Presently, we may only understand this shaking in part, as much as the Lord mercifully allows in order to wake us up to the full realization and satisfaction of our need for His prevailing love.
During this time between Christ’s departure to heaven and His return to earth, we live with an inheritance that occupies no visible space in present time. Like an atom, our inheritance is unseen to the naked eye. We cannot say of Christ’s reign, there it is. Just as the Torah was placed in the temple but took up no physical space because, say the Jews, it transcends the material world and all the books in it, we too can experience Christ’s reign now through faith though it may not appear to occupy physical space.
Those who put their faith in Christ have their names written in the book of life, which exists in heaven, a reality we can know now as we follow Jesus and more fully as we are overcoming in the grace of God. We as believers have entered into a spiritual Sabbath rest in the heavens, where we are seated together with Christ, having lives founded upon God’s unchanging promises of victory, hope, and rewards for work well done.
While we anticipate Christ’s return in an atom of time, in the twinkling of any eye, His word in our lives foreshadows for us that future instant when we shall all be changed in the greatest fusion event of all time. Christ’s word to us unites us presently to that future moment and His Messianic reign to come.