t is Thursday night on the day before Jesus dies, and He and His disciples have finished their Passover meal. Judas has discovered that Jesus knows what he is going to do. Hurriedly he leaves to betray Jesus. That evening Jesus seeks to encourage His disciples to love each other and tells them that He will be leaving them. Peter objects because he wants to be with his master and claims that he will die for Him. Jesus knows better. Then Jesus assures them that though He is leaving, He will come again,
Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you shall follow later.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.” Jesus *answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a cock shall not crow, until you deny Me three times. Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me . . . I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (NASB) John 13:36-14:3
Jesus’ first appearance here on earth is called His first coming
or First Advent. When Jesus said, “I will come again,” He
was referring to His Second Coming, or Second Advent - which is yet in
the future. The disciples may have thought that Jesus’ appearance
after His resurrection was His second coming. Apparently some thought
He was going to establish His kingdom or “The Millennium” then.
This explains why the disciples asked Jesus when He was going to “restore
the kingdom” in Acts 1:6. But Jesus responded by saying it would
not happen then, but in the future.
Disciples Looked Ahead. Jesus’ disciples
were still trying to understand the future of the world and their future.
They had understood Jesus’ comment completely that they would not
see His return during their lives. Jesus had said this after a discussion
with the Pharisees.
Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” And He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. (NASB) Luke 17:20-22
The Apostle Peter understood later in life that Jesus would not return in the near future (2 Pet. 3:3-5).
The Apostle John wrote many years after Jesus died, returned to life, and went back to heaven (A.D. 90 -100) that Jesus would be coming back. He did not know when.
Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. (NASB) 1 John 2:28
Some believe that Jesus returned when Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70. But this is not possible given Jesus’ comment in Luke 17:20-22 and the fact that the Apostle John was alive after Jerusalem’s destruction. It is important to notice that the book of Revelation was written sometime after A.D. 95. That means John wrote about the future in the book of Revelation after Jerusalem was destroyed. Revelation tells us that the second coming of Jesus was a future event.
Four Kingdoms. When is Jesus coming again? In order to answer this question, we must go back to the Old Testament in the book of Daniel. The prophet Daniel gives us a glimpse of Israel’s future when he interprets a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (Daniel 2:19-45).
The dream was about a statue which symbolizes the future nations that would control Israel while they are in the land of Palestine. Daniel predicts a succession of empires starting with Babylon. The golden head is Babylon. The silver chest is Medo-Persia. The bronze waist is Greece. The iron legs are Rome, and the iron, clay feet and the stone are all future kingdoms. Each new kingdom defeats the preceding one. Each new kingdom is stronger than the one before it and lasts longer. Each new kingdom is a continuation of Gentile control over the land of Palestine, except for the kingdom symbolized by the stone.
The last major empire controlling Palestine, while Israel was there, was Rome. Rome was different from the other empires. It was never defeated. It dissolved from within.
“Feet” Empire. Daniel explained
that the feet represent a future version of the old Roman Empire. The
feet are a continuation of the old Babylonian, Medio-Persian, Grecian,
and Roman empires. Each empire has occupied Palestine and each was built
on the previous empire. The future is found in the feet.