When He came to Earth nearly 2,000 years ago, the leaders of His own people rejected Him and His message of love and salvation. Yes, they wanted a savior, a messiah, a great king, but not one who was born in a barn and raised by a poor carpenter, and who chose humble fishermen, tax collectors, drunks and prostitutes as His friends and followers. Few of the rich and powerful of His day were interested in the freedom of spirit He offered to all who would receive the truth He spoke. They only wanted freedom from Rome and Roman taxes. Nor did they desire the eternal treasures and rewards He promised to all who would believe in and follow Him. They wanted an earthly messiah, a king who could make them a wealthy and powerful material kingdom there and then.
This Man, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Creator of the universe, said, "All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on Earth" (Matthew 28:18). He could have taken over the world and made Himself its king in one day! He told the Roman governor before whom he was tried, "You could have no power against Me unless it had been given you from above. Don't you realize that I could ask My Father for thousands of angels, and H e would send them instantly?" (John 19:11; Matthew 26:53 TLB).
When His naked body hung dying on the cross where He was crucified, and the religious leaders taunted, "You saved others. If You're really the Son of God, save Yourself" (Mark 15:29-32), He could have done that. But He chose to die for us!
After He rose from the grave, He could have shown Himself to the high priests, the governor or Caesar himself and proved to them and the world that He was indeed the Son of God, the Messiah, and He could have forced them all to worship Him. Instead He appeared only to those who already believed in Him and loved Him, in order to comfort them and encourage their faith.
For 2,000 years He and His kingdom have remained unseen by this world, manifested only in the hearts and lives of those who love and receive Him by faith. This is the mystery that many of His own people in His day couldn't understand, and that many today cannot seem to grasp: He offers each of us a choice to receive or reject Him. This is still the Age of Grace, and it's up to each of us to make the choice to believe His Word and receive Him by faith.
But the day is coming very soon when this present age will be over and all the world will "see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:29-31). For He has promised to come again, and according to numerous fulfilled prophecies describing world conditions immediately before Jesus returns, the time is close at hand. We are now living in the final Last Days of man's cruel and destructive rule on Earth!
From all indications, the last seven years of man's rule will be upon us soon. This period will begin with the rise of a godless One-World government that will be led by a Devil-possessed dictator, the Antichrist. This imitation messiah will at first bring peace-but peace at a price: enforced worship of himself during the second half of his reign. This final three-and-a-half years is known as the Great Tribulation (Daniel 8:23-25; 9:27; 11:21-45; Matthew 24:15,21; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Revelation chapter 13).
Jesus said, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days ... the sign of the Son of Man will appear in [the sky], and then all the [wicked] will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:29-30). This time He's not going to come as a meek and mild babe in a manger-God in the hands of man-but as the almighty King of kings. Then it will be man in the hands of God!
The trumpets of God will sound, and Jesus' mighty voice will thunder from the heavens, "Come up!" Then all of His saved children will be caught up together with Him in the clouds, rising in immortal victory over the forces of the satanic Antichrist. This is the miracle that takes place when Jesus returns: the resurrection of the saved! The bodies of all those who had received Jesus as their Savior and had since died will be instantly resurrected and come bursting out of their graves in new heavenly glory, and all of us believers who are still alive will be instantly transformed and raised with them to meet Jesus in the air (Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:51-57; Philippians 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 11:12).
Then we will all fly away with the Lord to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb in the Heavenly City (Revelation 19:6-9). It will be the greatest party ever held-a wonderful reunion with the Lord and all of our loved ones, our victory celebration. Meanwhile, the Antichrist and his followers will be left to suffer the wrath of God, hell on Earth, until we return with the Lord to finally take over the world in the Battle of Armageddon and set up His kingdom of love here on Earth-the happy new beginning!