Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him…
The second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is set before us as the supreme hope of the Church, that great and glorious event towards which all is leading up, or for which all is preparing. This being so, our feelings in regard of it will serve us as a test by which to gauge ourselves with respect to our present condition before God. If things are as they should be with us, we shall be able to say from our heart, "Even so, Amen." Have any of us failed before this simple test? Have we come to the conclusion that, though we hope we love the Lord, we do not love His appearing? What are the causes that render it possible for any true child of God to shrink from the thought of his Master's return? Conspicuous amongst these is that secret worldliness of heart, against which the Master so solemnly warned us: "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your heart be overcharged with... the cares of this life." Have we to confess that we have been living and labouring to win wealth, or fame, or social distinction, or to better our position, and to gain the honour that cometh from man? Ah! no wonder then that we love not His appearing, for has not our worldly self become within us a little Antichrist, whom the Lord must needs destroy by the brightness of His coming? Or peradventure we are entangled by worldly associations. Instead of so loving the world as Christ loved it, and going into it to save its perishing children, we have gone there in search of social pleasure, and have found a social snare; and instead of going outside the camp bearing Christ's reproach, we have become conformed to the world's image, and accept its maxims and wear its uniform. Ah! how can we desire the Lord's appearing if we have been false to our colours? Or again, is it not only too obvious that many are prevented from uttering this prayer from the heart because they know that they have been leading an indolent and useless life? Have you an inward conviction that the Lord Jesus Christ must, as a matter of simple truth, say of your service, were He now to appear, "Thou wicked and slothful servant... take the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath ten talents"? Or, once again, how many a Christian is robbed of his Advent hope by some secret sin, known perhaps only to God and himself, extenuated and even defended by a perverted understanding, but already condemned by the inward witness of the Holy Ghost in his hearty It may be some crooked, or at any rate questionable, practice in business; it may be some impurity of thought, or even of action; it may be some habit of levity and frivolousness, or loose and giddy speech; or it may be a custom of exaggeration and untruthfulness which you have familiarised yourself with until you scarcely are aware of it when you fall into the fault. Or perhaps it may not be secret sin which stands between us and our hope, but rather an open and obvious inconsistency apparent to all around as well as to ourselves. Many real Christians, I am persuaded, are unable to love the Lord's appearing because they are walking rather after the flesh than after the Spirit. Now, if for any of these reasons you feel yourselves unable to love and pray for the Lord's appearing, consider, I pray you, whence you have fallen, how your highest glory is being turned into your deepest shame. Oh, cast away all that robs thee of thy Advent hope and of the joys of anticipation, and make a fresh and full surrender of thyself. But if the thought of this glorious event prove so very heart-searching to us, who have already come under the influence of God's grace, how very powerfully should it weigh with those who have not yet taken the very first step in the Christian life! It is surely high time for such to listen to the Advent cry, "Behold, He cometh with clouds." "Behold, He cometh." Oh that men would respond to that call for here indeed is something worth looking at. Man may say "Behold!" about many things of small import, but when God says "Behold! "rest assured there is something worth looking at before us. A voice from heaven is pleading for our attention, and it seems to say, "Stop and think, the foredoomed hour draws nigh, return and come!" "And every eye shall see Him." It will not be a matter of choice or preference then, as it is now; a stern necessity will compel every human being that God has made, whether he will or no, to behold the approaching King. Drawn as by an irresistible force, all shall be brought into His presence, and find themselves arraigned before the bar of the Judge. Who are they to whom this revelation of Jesus Christ will cause such unspeakable despair? They are described here. And let us be honest with ourselves, and face the question candidly: "Do I belong to the classes that are mentioned here as being plunged into such dire distress? First we hear of those who pierced Him. Have any of us pierced Him? True, we were not present at Calvary, we had no part in driving in the iron nails into His quivering palms, or in thrusting the spear into His side. But have we never pierced Him? Yes, not once only, but over and over again, in the long, dark ages of man's history, Jesus Christ has been pierced, and He is being pierced still. How do men pierce Him? Surely by undisguised hostility and contemptuous scorn. It is wonderful to what length men will still go in their hatred of Christ. Still He has to complain, "They hated Me without a cause." The bitter things that men of the world say about Christians, what is it but a determined attempt to wound the Master through the servants? Others, again, pierce Jesus by cold indifference and heartless ingratitude. You can be kind and tender in every other relationship of life; you are a generous husband and a considerate and sympathising father; and you are a gentle and devoted wife and a tender-hearted mother and friend; there is only one Person whom you habitually slight and treat with ingratitude and neglect, as though it were a matter of indifference to you whether you pleased or pained Him, and that Person is Divine. Him you have treated with contempt, His love you have rejected, and His mercy you have despised. Ah, how will you face Him when every eye shall see Him, and you shall know at last how your callous indifference, your black ingratitude, has pierced the sensitive heart of the Son of Man, who lived and died for you? How will you endure the wrath of the Lamb? Some of you again have pierced Jesus by deliberately choosing something which He hates in preference to Himself. Ah, how often this is done! It may be that your preference falls on some evil habit that is destroying you, body and soul; it may be some accursed sin that is poisoning your whole being, and yet you prefer it to Christ. But our text speaks of others besides these. It tells us how "all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him." To which of the two kindreds do you belong? Are you of the earth, earthy, or are you citizens of Mount Zion? for to one or other of these two classes we all belong. Judge yourselves, lest that day come upon you as a thief in the night, revealing to you your true character and position when the revelation comes too late. Again, we ask, Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? Those surely have nothing to fear from the Lord's appearing who can say, "Unto Him that has loved us," etc. Judgment has no terrors and eternity no alarms for those who are living in the conscious enjoyment of the benefits of redeeming love.
(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.