Series: Maintaining this Hope
MESSAGE: Maran atha – the cry of the heart
Maran atha – the cry of the heart
We have begun to look at the return of the Lord since the early church…
- Laid it out as a foundational doctrine of Jesus
- gave MUCH attention to it
- talked MUCH about it
- placed MUCH focus upon it
- understood through Paul that if our anticipation of it is natural and birthed from love – it purifies.
Our focus was 1Jn. 3:1-3,
“(1) See what marvellous love the Father has bestowed upon us–that we should be called God’s children: and that is what we are.
For this reason the world does not recognize us–because it has not known Him.
(2) Dear friends, we are now God’s children, but what we are to be in the future has not yet been fully revealed. We know that if Christ reappears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. (3) And every man who has this hope fixed on Him, purifies himself so as to be as pure as He is.”
Remember that the Wuest translation said, “everyone who has this hope continually set on Him is constantly purifying himself just as that One is pure.”
As I was considering this and reading about Return of the Lord in Thessalonians this morning it occurred to me that we really haven’t been that far from the mark. As I have read more and more about the return of the Lord and what the teaching of the early church was surrounding that a great majority of it is centered in on our hope a bearing the image of Jesus. That his return is so celebrated because instead of seeing him through a glass dimly we will then see him face to face and that the result of that encounter will be a transformation into his image that is instantaneous.
Our Focus for some time now has been the great hope we all have in Salvation of Christ being fully formed in us and the redemption of our bodies. But regarding the redemption of our bodies our focus has been on having bodies which no longer veil His face and no longer fight us with worldly cravings. But the very thing which makes this possible is His return. It is just one more area where we were close to the truth but still miles away. We were making it about Christ in us and the Redemption of the body which are results of seeing him rather than just making it about seeing Him at his return.
So – Last week we considered by way of example – Song of Solomon & Jewish weddings
We did this in order to capture the heart geography of this longing anticipation.
That the anticipation we are talking about regarding Christ’s return is similar to that Jewish bride.
Wedding and bride and bridesmaids (Spirit) are the language of the return we are focused upon.
Many Returns…many words
As I told you a few weeks ago there are several words associated with the comings of Christ.
I say “Comings” because there are in fact more than one.
The Old Testament spoke of at least two, perhaps three, based upon your interpretation of end time events. Though the typical Jew of Jesus’ day, I believe saw them all as congruent with one event.
In their thinking He would:
- come as Messiah and declare war
- liberate the Jews from all bondanges
- set up His kingdom and the uncontested establishment of the Promised land to the Jews forever
- Judge the world
…all in one event – His coming.
So you can easily see why many Jews have not accepted Jesus as the Messiah.
In the New Testament we have several words associated with Jesus’ return.
All with similar yet, somewhat different meanings and applications.
Parousia is the most used and provides a kind of umbrella under which the others offer more specific definitions.
Now, many of you are familiar with the word Marana tha and that is the word we will spend much of our time with this morning.
The expression itself is capable of two interpretations.
“Our Lord has come!’
‘Come, our Lord!’
One of the proofs of how important this doctrine is now and was in the early church is evidenced by the fact that it was one of the first words incorporated into the “dictionary of Christianesse”.
You might be surprised therefore to learn that it only appears ONE TIME in all of scripture and in that place it is not used in clear reference to a specific event.
- Second coming
- To judge the world
IT DOES however “seem” to best line up with the particular return of the Lord we are to anticipate.
Let’s look at it. It’s found in 1 Cor. 16:21-24,
“(21)This greeting is in my own hand–Paul. (22) If anyone does not love the Lord, a curse be on him. Maranatha! (23) The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (24) My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.”
You see it is mentioned in connection with our love for the Lord or rather a grim pronouncement over those who do NOT love Him.
As such, I believe it carries the second of the possible meanings. That of “Come, our Lord” since that would make it in the imperative mood and express a LONGING for His coming rather than a statement of the fact that “Our Lord has come”.
There are a few other times when a phrase is translated into nearly the same English words but those are NOT this word Marana tha.
As I’ve said, there are several times the Lord is recorded as coming, one of which has already happened, and we just celebrated it at Christmas and that is – His incarnation.
That was the coming which was associated with suffering.
At the Last Supper and just prior to Jesus’ final departure when He ascended into Heaven on a cloud- Jesus Himself spoke of His return.
So there we can see from His Own promise that He will in fact return.
Now this is where believers are divided and as such, I do not believe it is imperative to press issues at this point.
There are many views.
The one we have always taken here in this church, for various reasons, is that the rapture of the church will take place prior to the tribulation (or at very least before the last 3.5 years of it when the really bad stuff happens) and that therefore it is a separate event from the second coming of Christ where He comes on a horse with His saints with Him to rule and reign for a thousand years.
The reason I even bring all this up, is because I want to be as clear as possible regarding which return we are commanded to anticipate. It is VERY important. There are enough clues given us in the New Testament which cast serious doubts upon whether one will even participate in the rapture if they do not love and anticipate His coming.
Paul said in his second letter to Timothy, “(6) For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. (7) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (8) In the future, there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.” ~ 2Tim. 4:6-8
As I said, Jesus’ first coming was associated with His suffering.
Therefore it follows that when He comes again it will be in Glory and to Rule and reign. It is NOT the purpose of this message to determine if these represent separate or congruent events.
Jesus Himself spoke of His return in 1 Corinthians 11:26, so let’s turn there together.
From the earliest parts of church history an important aspect of the celebration of the Lord’s Supper was a looking forward, in hope, to His return.
I have mentioned and even read to you from the Didache a few times over the years. It is a document which was written during end of the lives of the last Apostles and it is this that gives it some authority since, none of the apostles rebuked it’s content.
The word Didache just means – the teaching.
In the Didache the expression ‘maranatha’ is used in prayers which were part of the liturgy used at the Lord’s Supper and is, as you might expect, taken from the ‘Teaching’ of the Apostle Paul regarding the first communion.
Paul said in our verse in Cor., “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. ”
This has to be appreciated in the context of Jesus’ own words at the institution of this feast found in Matt. 26:29,
“I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Then is the reference in Rev. 22:20,
Rev. 22:20, “He who testifies about these things says, “Yes, I am coming suddenly.” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”
In order to move a little forward in this topic I want us to spend a some time as we closer out our time this morning looking at some places were it is clear that Jesus’ return for His church is a pivotal teaching and time. You will also see how closely it is mentioned with Christ being formed in us and the Redemption of the body.
“(12) Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”? (13) But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; (14) and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without foundation, and so is your faith. “(15) In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ–Whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised. (16) For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. (17) And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”
The return of the Lord for His bride and their physical resurrection from the dead is the FULNESS of our salvation. It is NOT a side issue, it is part of our great hope.