The Old Testament prophets tell of their hope in the coming Messiah Nationalistic Jews in the first century, galled by the Roman occupation, looked with great expectation for the Son of Man coming on clouds of glory to defeat the oppressors and rule in equity the Chosen People.

People flocked to hear Jesus because they thought he was to be this triumphant Son of Man, a political ruler. Even the Apostles expressed this view at times. Their hopes were destroyed when they saw their leader murdered – but the Resurrection turned their despair to joy, and the church was established.

Eschatological hope was one of the main themes of New Testament Christianity. The early followers of the Way could give up all their earthly possessions – suffer indignities and even martyrdom – because of their belief that the Lord Jesus Christ would return. One of the early problems of the church was that as the years passed and Jesus did not return, believers fell away. The book of John attempts to answer this problem with the explanation of the timelessness of God.

Nineteen centuries have passed Jesus has not returned. Very few Christians now expect Him in any concrete sense. We say, “You never know; He might come tomorrow.” But we do not believe it – our affirmation that he might come does not keep us from buying insurance. We all expect to die in bed – and not for years yet. To paraphrase a prominent East Cost theologian, “We don’t think Jesus will cut the ski season short.”

One of the main emphasis of the early church was its eager hope to be caught up with the Lord. This is not a main emphasis of the twentieth century church. If we believe in the Second Coming at all, it is a theological abstraction – a minor biblical doctrine, having little to do with our daily conduct. For all our pious protestations, we don’t really believe He will cut the ski season short.