WEEKLY CHRISTIAN BIBLE STUDY AND DEVOTIONAL FROM GOD’S WORD, FOR THE NEWLY SAVED AND MORE SEASONED BELIEVER, AND FOR OTHERS SEEKING TRUTH. OUR PRAYER IS TO ENCOURAGE YOU AND STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH IN GOD’S INFINITE MERCY, LOVE AND GRACE, AND IN THE GOSPEL OF THE DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, THAT ALL WHO SEEK HIM HAVE ETERNAL, ABUNDANT LIFE.
Saturday, December 5, 2020
Three Appearings of Christ
During Advent and the Christmas season, we celebrate the
first appearing of Jesus Christ, when He left His heavenly throne to clothe
Himself in human flesh (John 1:14;
Luke 1-2), to appear on Earth. But the New Testament actually refers
to three appearings of Christ: past, present
and future (Hebrews 9:24-28).
Two thousand years ago He appeared on earth at His first coming; currently He
appears at the right hand of God the Father to intercede for us; and in the future
He will again appear on earth at His second coming.
Before these three
appearings of Christ summarized in Hebrews, there were also preincarnate
appearances of Jesus Christ in human form, in which He is often referred to as
the angel of the Lord, such as when He appeared to Hagar to provide a great
promise for her son Ishmael (Genesis 16).
Predating by millennia His appearance as a Babe in
Bethlehem, Jesus Christ appeared to Abraham as a human visitor, accompanied by two angels also in the form of men, to tell him
that his wife Sarah would conceive in her old age and that Abraham would thereby
be the father of a great nation (Genesis
18). Later the angel of the Lord appeared to keep Abraham from
sacrificing Isaac as God had commanded him (Genesis
Other visible manifestations of God in the Old Testament
include the burning bush from which the angel of the Lord spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:2; Acts 7:30),
and the Shekinah Glory, or fire inhabited by God, which led the Israelites through
the wilderness into the Promised Land (Exodus
As prophesied in the Old Testament, the promised Messiah,
Son of God and God Himself, would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), given by God the Father to save us from the
penalty of our sins and to reign forever (Luke
1:31-33). This appearance was known by God and actually prophesied
since the beginning of the world (Luke
1:67-79) as the solution to redeem man from the curse of sin brought about
by Adam’s disobedience (Romans 5:12-19).
Although Jesus would be tempted and tested as we all are,
He would never sin (Hebrews 4:15),
and therefore was the perfect atoning Sacrifice to pay our sin debt in full (Romans 3:25). Holy God could not
allow sinful man into Heaven without Jesus
Christ taking on Himself the burden of all our sin as He died on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Before Christ’s first appearing, the high priest had to
enter the most holy place in the temple once every year with an animal sacrifice to temporarily cover the sins of himself
and of the people (Hebrews 9:6-15).
But the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), then “appeared
to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26).
The Greek word used here for “appeared” is “phaneroo,” meaning to become evident or
visible after being hidden. The Triune God
knew that God the Son would appear in this specific form for the specific purpose of salvation for all who trusted
Him, and spoke of it in veiled terms through the prophets. Yet His actual
appearing was a mystery hidden through the ages until the fullness of times had
arrived (Ephesians 1:10).
Jesus cried out “It is finished,” as the agony of His
crucifixion ended, for His work on the cross abolished the need for animal
sacrifice or for any work as an attempt to obtain salvation (John 19:30). We are saved only by
His grace through our faith in Him, and not by our works (Ephesians 2:8-9). All who trust in His death, burial and
resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6)
will therefore have eternal life (John
Once Jesus Christ arose from the dead and ascended into
Heaven, His second and present appearing is in the presence of God (Hebrews 9:24). He is now seated
at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews
10:12), constantly making intercession
for us (Romans 8:34) to the
Father as the Holy Spirit brings our prayer requests to Him (Romans 8:26). There He is also
our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1), defending us against
the accusations of the devil. In this active and vocal role it is fitting that
the Greek word for “appear” is “emphanizo,”
meaning to be manifest or declare openly.
The third appearing of Christ Jesus (Hebrews 9:26) refers to His future appearing, or Second
Coming, when born-again Christians (John
3:3-8) eagerly anticipating the blessed hope of the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17) shall
see Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12).
How appropriate that the Greek word translated here as “appearing” is “optomai,” meaning to gaze at face to
In our glorified bodies we will be freed not only from the
power and penalty of sin, but even from the very presence of sin (1 Corinthians 15:35-50). Our
justification (Romans 3:24-28),
sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30),
and salvation (Romans 1:16) shall
be perfected and made complete, for we shall sin no more! At the Rapture, or
first phase of Christ’s future appearing, that appearing will be evident only
to God’s children, for those who are left behind will not witness His presence
or our ascent to meet Him.
But in the second phase of Christ’s future appearing, all
will see the King of Kings return to earth in all His glory, and we shall
accompany Him in glory as His troops (Revelation
17:14) when He defeats sin, death and Satan! The apostle Paul writes: When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then
shall ye also appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4).
The Greek word used here for “appear” is also “phaneroo,” as used to describe His first
appearing in human form in Bethlehem, meaning to become evident or visible after being hidden. Clearly all will then witness
Jesus Christ in physical, tangible form, just as experienced by those Jesus
encountered in His earthly ministry.
While those who walked the earth with Jesus.saw Him as a
frail newborn (Luke 2:12),
humble servant (John 13:5),
and suffering Savior (Hebrews 12:2),
all who see His future appearing shall witness the King of Kings in all His
power, glory and righteous judgment. May all trust Him now in His present
appearing to hear the plea of a sinner seeking salvation, to ensure that they
will one day appear with Him in glory!