Does the Bible Teach Us How to Pray?
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Does the Bible Teach Us How to Pray?

The King Who Will Return For Us

Posted March 29, 2024

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."John 14:3

Christians live in the time between the two advents of Jesus Christ. December will find many of us lighting the first advent candle and reading an appropriate Scripture for the day. Perhaps it will be Isaiah 9:6:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; And the government shall be upon his shoulder, And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

This familiar text, which we have read and heard and sung, points us to the incarnation and birth of the God-man. No one saw this coming. Generations of believers had longed for Messiah to come and deliver them, but no one expected the coming one to be God himself. Who could have imagined the LORD sending his majesty into a young girl’s womb to become the child of whom Isaiah spoke?

“This Jesus” is the one who was born that day in a stable. An angel not only told Mary about the coming child, but he also named the baby for her, “and you shall call his name Jesus (Luke 1:31).” That name was confirmed to Joseph by another angelic visitation (Matt. 1:22) with one additional phrase, “for he shall save his people from their sins.”

“This Jesus” was the name used by the angels years later when they appeared to the crowd of assembled disciples on the day Jesus ascended. They identified him explicitly, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). This Jesus, the one who was born and later christened by the angels, the one who ascended into heaven, is the one for whom Christians wait.

As those who live in the time between the two advents, we keenly feel Jesus’ absence. While we wait for his return, we need to understand his heart.

He Wants Us to Be with Him

John 14:3 shows us the heart of Christ, not just for the disciples in earshot, but for us today. He prepared the twelve who are with him for his departure, using homey words. Like a busy innkeeper, Jesus soon will be occupied with preparing a place in his Father’s house not only for them, but for each one of us, his brothers and sisters.

We must avoid thinking that Jesus departed so he could get away from us and not have to deal with our weaknesses. Maybe that’s how we would feel if we were constantly badgered by our children or shoved to the end of the line by crowds. But Jesus doesn’t see us as a bother.

We can see that most clearly by observing how he treated those around him. The Jesus of the Gospels was constantly accompanied by his disciples. Yet, he never pushed them away, not even when they failed him. In addition, the gospels display his heart not only for the twelve he called, but for the crowds he served. He noticed the poor widow with her two copper coins (Mark 12:42); he saw the grieving mother who had lost her only son (Luke 7:12). He saw because he looked. He looked because he loved.

Jesus was not burdened by us in his days of ministry, nor is he burdened by us now. No, he is thinking of us all the time. He tells us his desire forus is “to be with me where I am,” to see his glory and be in the fellowship of his love forever (John 17:24).

He Wants Us to Expect His Return

We may be tempted to think that the delay of Jesus’ coming means he is not coming. Or we may spend all our time worried about the signs of the times. Instead, Jesus wants to direct our full attention to his mission. The heart of Christ extends to all those the Father has given him. Consider his words to Peter around the campfire in John 21. Peter is moping. Hadn’t he denied Jesus three times? Hadn’t he turned coward and deserted him? Maybe he should return to fishing. Instead, Jesus calls Peter to become a shepherd, tending the souls of those who believe the gospel.

Lest we say, “I’m not Peter, so don’t expect me to do that,” let’s examine Acts 1. As Jesus prepares to ascend into heaven, the crowd of disciples are preoccupied about the timing of his return. In response to their question, Jesus redirects their attention to the mission. Their calling is to be his witnesses.

Despite this last-minute clarification, they continue to stare at the clouds even after Jesus has disappeared from sight. It takes the appearance of two angels to get them moving, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Because the return of Christ is so certain, we can get on with the mission.

He Wants to Bless Us

What are we to do while we wait? Consider the parable of the master returning home from his wedding feast (Luke 12:35-43). This is a call to alert and faithful service until Jesus comes, no matter how long it takes. We want our Master to find us going about his business, serving his kingdom through gospel witness and humble service. We want to continue serving so simply and gladly that we stop thinking about ourselves. Instead, we anticipate his coming.

What will happen then? Luke gives us the astonishing answer: “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them” (Luke 12:37).

These words make me shake my head in disbelief. This is what the crucified, risen, ascended, coming King thinks of his servants.

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come Lord Jesus!Revelation 22:20
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Rondi Lauterbach

Rondi Lauterbach is a pastor’s wife who has been a friend and encourager to women in their life’s callings. She is a mother, grandmother, Bible study leader, Pilates teacher, and fierce competitor at all board games. Her first book, Hungry: Learning to Feed Your Soul with Christ, was published in 2016 by P&R Publishing.