A simple devotional meditation to bring comfort to grieving hearts.
"Behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1.10).
My meditation centres upon the words, "this same Jesus".
The disciples saw their beloved Lord and Master taken from them up into heaven and they were left alone, confused, and undoubtedly heavy-hearted. For years they had been together, living and working and serving God, and had never been parted from Him from the first day until Calvary, and again now. His absence would leave them alone and by themselves. No loving company with whom to share the joys and sorrows of life. No loving words to soothe and reassure them and understand their fears and pain. No wise counsel applying the light of God's Word to their needs. They were simply downcast and perplexed. Their Lord was risen and living indeed, but had just left them and was gone, no longer visibly with them. As yet they had not fully understood His promise that He would not leave them "orphans" but be with them in the coming of the Comforter, and be with them "always" according to the word He spoke to them when they saw Him on the Galilean mountain – they only knew their beloved Lord had just left them and was gone. They needed a word of comfort and encouragement for their present loss, and something they could rest upon as a future promised hope, and so the angels assured them that this same Jesus would come again one day in precisely the way they had seen Him go - this same Jesus!
The meaning of the angels' words was that exactly the same person who had been taken from them would return again – exactly the same person and not another. The same in person in body and soul and clothed in human nature: the same Jesus who had been taken from them and whom they knew so well would be the very same Jesus who returned. The same loving heart, the same well-known voice, the same understanding smile, and the same soft and tender look. The same attractive and loving man, who had just been taken from them with nail-pierced hands and feet, would be the very same One who would return - this same Jesus!
Of course at His return He would be invested with all the external accoutrements of splendour suited to His heavenly rank of divine equality with God, and a body of glory, and wearing the diadem of supreme honour and imperial majesty His Father had placed upon His noble brow. There would be an escort of heaven's most magnificent angels, and the sceptre of universal rule in His hand – but nevertheless, under all these externals of magnificence and splendour He is still this same Jesus. Those eyes, that smile, the tender softness of that voice, the gentle character of that face. Yes, it is this same Jesus.
And that is the hope we have too as we await the Lord from heaven who will take us to our eternal abiding places in the Father's House. It is this same Jesus who is coming for us.
Now the thought I had and which brought a thrill to my soul is this - if when Jesus returns at the Rapture and it will be this same Jesus, most certainly those He brings with Him will be the same persons to whom we said farewell when we laid their bodies to rest in death and the grave. Their bodies will be raised and transformed and reunited with their glorified spirits and we shall be "together with them" around our lovely Lord – but it will be this same loved one and not another.
Just think how sad and devastated we were when our loved ones left us – just as the disciples were sad when their Lord and Master left them. They felt alone, and so did we. They felt the loss of one they had been with for years, just as we did when our loved ones departed. They knew He was the living Lord just as we know that our loved ones in spirit are alive with Christ and have everlasting life – but when He left them they were alone – and when our loved ones left us we too were so alone and sad and had grieving hearts. But the heavenly assurance is that this same Jesus is returning one bright day – and our loved ones too – this same husband, this same wife, this same mother, this same grandma, this very same Jim, Rachel, Anna, Robert, Mary, brothers and sisters in the Lord, are going to return with Christ and we shall be reunited in glory with the very same ones we laid to rest in death. Not in the same earthly relationship as husband and wife, parent and child, master and servant no doubt, but in the same deathless life, inseparable togetherness, and glorious eternal heavenly relationship which will obtain then and last forever! O what a comfort and uplift such a thought is.
Of course, as this same Jesus will be robed in glory when He returns but will still be this same Jesus, so our loved ones will be arrayed, as will we all be, in glorified bodies – but that won't alter the fact we shall all still be this same person! It is like seeing someone we love on a special occasion wearing a splendid new suit, or a lovely dress, or a beautiful coat and looking unlike how we may be used to seeing them – but under the smart clothes they are still the very same person – sounding the same, talking the same, and loving just the same as before! So these glorified bodies in which we shall all be arrayed are still essentially and actually this same being we always have been and always will be!
And with the very same loved ones we went to the house of God and worshipped our God down here, sang hymns of praise and remembrance, prayed and adored, so we shall with them, in priestly perfection, lead the worship of a universe standing and serving with our beloved High Priest after the order of Melchisedec within the Veil of that heavenly sanctuary above. O the awesome solemnity, dignity, and joy that will then be ours!
Did we go hand in hand on earth on our favourite walks in woods and countryside and together admire God's wonderful handiwork in nature? Then with these same loved ones, amid the company of the exalted blood-redeemed of God, we shall again walk together but this time along the avenues of the City of Gold, the New Jerusalem, in its crystal light and transparent loveliness. We shall walk by the banks of the river of the water of life, beneath the fruitful boughs of the tree of life, and admire the greatness of our God in the city that knows no night and is illumined by the glory of God shining through the Lamb its lamp. If earth's nature was so beautiful languishing as it did under sin's curse, what will it be with these same loved ones to pass together through the gates of pearl where stands the angelic watch, and delight in the endless beauties of God's new heaven and new earth with no more curse and in sinless perfection.
To the pedantic theologian and disbelieving sceptic this is just so much romantic imagination or poetic hyperbole. But in truth this is not simply imagination – it is sober fact supported by the living oracles of God and actually is a vast understatement of the reality of what it will all in fact be truly like!
May the "Lord of Truth" bless this simple meditation to every believing heart. Amen and Hallelujah!