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God’s Word for You

Luke 17:24, 25 the lightning of his return

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, November 20, 2018

24 For in his day the Son of man will be like the lightning that flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

The two advents or arrivals of Christ are set side by side with a stunning contrast. The second coming will be like a flash of lightning, glorious, brilliant, and everyone will recognize him for Who He Is. The second coming of Christ will not have an end; it will be eternal. The first? The first coming ended in suffering, rejection, and death.

Jesus knew exactly what kind of suffering he was going to undergo. He lists things which do not occur in any of the Old Testament prophecies but all of which happened to him: Being flogged (whipped, Luke 18:32) mocked (Matthew 20:19), spit upon (Mark 10:34), handed over to the Gentiles (Mark 10:33), and the crucifixion itself (Matthew 20:19) were all things Jesus and Jesus alone predicted.

In his second and final advent, Jesus will come “like lightning.” This is not a scientific analysis of lightning. He doesn’t mean that some will see it who are nearby, like lightning, but those who are on the other side of the world will not see it, just as we cannot see lightning flashes in Europe or in Asia. No, Jesus is speaking from every person’s point of view. The coming of Jesus will be like a lightning bolt: It will interrupt and dominate everyone’s life. We will all see him. Everyone in the world will be aware of Jesus’ return.

Anyone who has been present to see a bolt of lightning strike will never forget it. The blinding flash, though momentary, subdues everything else. It is broad daylight when lightning flashes, even at midnight. Everything is lit up by the flash. There is also the explosion of sound, deafening in its ferocity, that drowns all other sounds and ends them. Silence follows the thunder at ground zero of the flashpoint. The people who are there talk about nothing else for many minutes afterward. So it will be when Jesus returns, but the effects will not merely linger for a little while. The flash of his brightness will make the sun a useless, second-hand orb that won’t be required anymore: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Revelation 21:23). There will be a new song sung in heaven, “a sound… like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder” (Revelation 14:2). There will be no other sound in heaven besides the sound of praise to God and God’s people obedient to God’s holy will.

We will praise him, and we will give him our full attention because of the moment of the cross. In that moment, he bore the sins of the human race, and poured out our debt with his own blood. With inexpressible joy we will gaze upon the one who died, who was given back to us alive in the resurrection, and who raised each one of us from death.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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