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Why Follow Jesus?

Chapter 19: The Return of Jesus

Islam and Christianity share the belief that the same Jesus, who lived on this earth and was raised alive into heaven, will return to this world at the end of the age.

The return of Jesus in Islam

Popular Muslim traditions assert that when Jesus comes back, He will convert the world to Islam, destroy the antichrist, marry and have children. Laterhe will die and be buried next to Muhammad's grave in Medina.[1]

To support this doctrine, Muslims refer to the following verse in the Qur'an:

"And (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgement): Therefore have no doubt about the (Hour) but follow ye Me: this is a Straight way." (A.Yusuf Ali, Surah 43:61).

The majority of Muslim commentators take this verse to be a prophecy about the second coming of Jesus. This event is known as the "Nuzul-i- Isa" and also as the "Nuzul-i- Masih", the 'descent' of Jesus.

One of the Muslim traditions states: "Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: By Him in Whose hand is my life, the son of Mary (may peace be upon him) will soon descend among you as a just judge. He will break crosses, kill swine and abolish jizya (poll tax), and the wealth will pour forth to such an extent that no one will accept it."[2]

Such are the references to the return of Jesus in Islam, but there are major differences between Christians and Muslims regarding His coming.

The return of Jesus in the Bible

Jesus' return is one of the great themes of the Bible. However, there is no suggestion that on His return Jesus will live as an ordinary human being, let alone that He will die and be buried. When Christians speak of Jesus' second coming from heaven, they obviously already believe in His first coming from heaven. Both beliefs go together and cannot be separated from each other.

On numerous occasions Jesus said that He had come down from heaven and that he would come again.[3] This second coming is to be different from the first. The Conquering King will come as Mighty Judge.

After witnessing Jesus' ascension, two angels told the disciples that He would come back from heaven in a similar manner as they had seen Him go into heaven.[4] Yet Jesus made it clear that His second coming would be a public event; as lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be His coming.[5] He warned us that there would be false prophets and false Messiahs, claiming to be the returned Christ. However, it will be easy for everyone to recognise His coming, because it will be witnessed throughout the whole world, by everyone, instantly.

The work upon his return

Jesus will send His angels to gather up all those who believe in Him, and will take them to heaven.[6] There will be a resurrection of all those who have died. As Jesus said, "For a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out - those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned."[7]

Thus Jesus taught that His return is to be a climactic event. He will judge the living and the dead, rewarding those who love and obey Him with eternal life and casting the rest into darkness to remain there forever.

The assurance that Christians have is that they will be raised to eternal life on that Day, not because they are worthy of it through their good deeds, but because of their faith in Jesus. Jesus said that on that day the righteous will shine like the sun.[8]

If God holds our deeds in a balance on that great day, then we will all stand condemned. However many good works we may have done, they will never be enough to bridge the gap which separates us from God. However, all this has been done for us in this life through Jesus. A believer in Christ's redemption does not do good deeds in order to earn a place in paradise. Rather, he does them because he loves Jesus. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." ... "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."[9] We praise God for the great gift of salvation; but for those who have never entered God's kingdom in this life there will be eternal condemnation. Jesus Himself made this clear again and again.[10]

The time factor

Jesus said that He will return when people do not expect Him. For example, He said that His coming will be like a thief in the night. "If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him."[11]

Jesus also said that His coming will be like the flood which came in the time of Noah. People were eating and drinking and were carrying on their normal daily work right up to the day that Noah entered the ark and the flood came.[12]

Some may say that two thousand years have passed and yet He has still not come. The Bible teaches that God loves His creation, and He does not want anyone to perish, so He is patient. He wants everyone to repent and be saved.[13] But you can be sure, He is keeping His promise. One day, at His own appointed time He will be here. As each day passes by, we get nearer to His coming. Time in fact is running out. There may be no chance tomorrow.

Jesus alone has conquered death. He alone dwells in heavenly glory far above the billions of men and women on earth, both dead and living. It is He who alone will return, shining in all His heavenly majesty, to award the crown of life to all who love Him and have remained faithful to Him even unto death. Everyone should surrender to Him and be saved by His grace.

Jesus is coming again

1. to raise the dead

"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out - those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." [14]

2. To judge all men

"See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." [15]

3. To reward the righteous and the unrighteous

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. ... Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'" [16]

4. to deliver the kingdom to the father

"Since death came through a man (Adam), the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. ... When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all." [17]


References

  1. Wali ad Din, "Mishkat Al Masabih", tr. James Robson, (Lahore, 1980), Vol II. p.p. 1159 -1160
  2. Sahih Muslim, Vol.1, p.92
  3. John 3:13; 8:23; 14:23; 16:28; Matthew 25:31,32; 26:64
  4. Acts 1:10,11
  5. Matthew 24:27; Revelation 1:7
  6. Matthew 24:31
  7. John 5:28,29
  8. Matthew 13:43
  9. John 14:15;13:15
  10. John 3:18,36
  11. Matthew 24:43-44
  12. Matthew 24:37-39
  13. 2 Peter 3:9
  14. John 5:28,29
  15. Jude 14-15
  16. Matthew 25:31- 34, 41
  17. 1 Corinthians 15:21-26, 28

 

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