Jesus’ Three Appearances

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:24-28).

Past (“has appeared”—v. 26). Present (“to appear”—v. 24). Future (“will appear”—v. 28). Three different Greek verbs are used. Each appearance deserves our reverent reflection.

Past. “He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” The use of the perfect tense indicates that this past action culminated in an abiding result. Jesus did not just come to earth; He came with a specific purpose, and when He accomplished that lifelong purpose, its effects remain to this day.

Present. “Now to appear in the presence of God.” The use of the infinitive indicates an enduring timelessness. Jesus’ appearance in human history was bounded by two dates. It was a finite number of days, weeks, and years. This finite past resulted in a present action which will continue until the end of time. With the first phase of His work as Redeemer completed, His work now is serving as our High Priest, reconciling humanity to God by His atoning blood.

Future. “He will appear a second time, apart from sin for salvation.” Jesus’ first two appearances will reach their goal when He appears a second time, gathers the saved—dead and living, and ushers the redeemed of all ages into the everlasting phase of His kingdom.

He came to save. He saves now. He will save forever.

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Author: jchowning

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