“And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-11).
The final chord of Luke’s Gospel pealed as Jesus ascended into heaven while blessing His disciples as they lingered, looking on in reverent awe and worship. Absorbing what they’d just witnessed, the story was far from over.
“Two men in white clothing stood beside them” (Acts 1:10). The strangers were by all appearances men, not the seductively sweet, petite adolescent girls that Hollywood portrays, but men, and no mention was made of wings. They were men and their clothes were white. The word Luke used described a pure, brilliant, white color, not the result of a day’s journey on a hot, humid Judean dirt road. Their clothes were the gleaming white of angelic attire.
From where had they come? When did they arrive? Why hadn’t anyone noticed them? They had simply appeared next to the enraptured disciples without coming from anywhere. Maybe because the disciples had just witnessed Jesus’ ascension, the appearance of two angels didn’t shock them as it might have on another occasion, but they seemed to take it all in stride.
If their arrival and appearance weren’t enough to shake the disciples, their announcement surely would have: “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Of course, He’d already told them to expect His return (Mt. 16:27-28). The angels just reminded them of the fact.
Christ’s return is the hope of every Christian. Just as the resurrection confirmed Him as Savior, His return will finally establish irrefutably His Lordship. Those who love His appearing (2 Tim. 4:8) need no further proof than the changed hearts that bring us to love His saving grace, but we long to see Him as much as his original faithful followers did.
We do not hope in the sense of crossing one’s fingers, knocking on wood, or rubbing a rabbit’s foot. No, the Christian’s hope is the confidant expectation that Jesus will return just as He said He would.
Those who are born again stand firmly fixed between the truth of Christ’s resurrection and the joy of His return. We look back to the resurrection and confess Him as Savior. We also look forward to His coming again with delightful anticipation and confess Him as Lord. The redeemed don’t simply hold the opinion that these things are so. We love the truth that Jesus is who He said He was and that He has done and will do everything He claimed He would do.
The hope, that is, the confidence of Christ’s return assures believers of the reality of all God’s promises and their accompanying blessings. We don’t just look for blessings in this life, as if a new house or car or family or anything else were enough. Nothing less than the eternal presence of joy in the Lord and unbroken fellowship with God will do.
Christians endure many hardships, setbacks, injustices, and cruelties in this life. The peace that passes understanding attends believers because we know that, regardless of what happens in the here and now, eternity awaits with a greater reward than we could ever imagine – not a bigger house or faster car, but the irrevocable knowledge of a place in the Father’s house.
I pray that the hope of eternity in the joyful presence of Jesus Christ will be yours.