2 June 2019
Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and said aloud, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and with these words he fell asleep.
I, John, heard a voice speaking to me: ‘Very soon now, I shall be with you again, bringing the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Happy are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates into the city.’
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to make these revelations to you for the sake of the churches. I am of David’s line, the root of David and the bright star of the morning.
The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come.’ Then let all who are thirsty come: all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free.
The one who guarantees these revelations repeats his promise: I shall indeed be with you soon. Amen; come, Lord Jesus.
Behold, I am coming soon
At the Feast of the Ascension, when Jesus rose heavenward, the apostles were literally dumbfounded. If we take a moment to visualize the scene, it can be awe-inspiring and yet perhaps a little humorous when we see the reaction of the apostles. Their jaws must have literally dropped. To be fair, if it were me, I don’t think I would have fared differently. At that scene in Acts 1: 10-11 “… two men in white robes suddenly appeared asking the disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
In the drama of the Ascension, we may inadvertently think that it’s all about Jesus returning to the Father and it may be easy to miss the more poignant, salvific event — that the Lord will one day return. It is the Second Coming of Christ that we need to be vigilant about. The Second Coming of Christ will signal the end times, the final judgement, the final battle between evil and good, death and resurrection. It will also be the time when the victory of Christ will be final and complete. There will be that historic end-time event or when Christ comes to us at the end of our own personal journey. Regardless when, whether it be to all of humanity or just to us at our own appointed end time, it will come.
The reaction of those around Stephen at his martyrdom also tells a lot about how unprepared many, if not most of us, would be when Christ comes again. How many of us would similarly ‘cover our ears’ when discipleship gets too demanding, or truth gets too inconvenient or God’s will gets in the way of our own? Saul was present at the stoning of Stephen. It took an equally dramatic event for Saul’s own conversion to occur when on the road to Damascus. That conversion was also part of the salvific plan of God for Paul, who then went on to become one of the, if not, the greatest instrument of evangelization by which God calls His people to know Him, to love Him and to be ready for the day of reckoning when we will all, bar none, come face to face with Him.
Are we ready now? If not, will we be ready? If not, when will we want to be ready? Will we be able to respond as the Psalmist did to Christ when he said, “Yes, I am coming soon”. Can we too say, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus. I am ready!”
(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)
Prayer: Father help us. Keep us focused on what is truly important – your will that we all become One as you are one with the Father. How often we fail to know the truth of our oneness with God for we are often lost in the midst of our divisions, our sin and indifference to the eternal truth that we are your children created by You, to be one with you.
Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for never giving up on us. For you hold on to your oneness with us despite our failure to hold on to our oneness with you. Prepare us for when your Son returns and help us to be ready to say, Come Lord Jesus, we are ready. We are one.