In this short paper, I present reasons why the Coming of Jesus has already taken place!
1. When Jesus gave instructions to His disciples preparing them for their mission to Israel (Matthew 10), He told them “whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. (Mat 10:23).
There is an obvious urgency in these instructions because the time they will have among the towns of Israel to proclaim the Kingdom of God before He comes (in judgment on apostate Israel) is short. They will be persecuted, but to waste no time there, but flee to the next town. We see this taking place with the apostles in the book of Acts.
2. Then Jesus later challenged His disciples with the question ‘who do you say I am?’ as we read in Matthew 16. He followed up Peter’s testimony with a foretelling of His coming death, the cost of following Him and then this stupendous announcement:
For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every person according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. Mat 16:27-28
Some have interpreted this as referring to the Transfiguration event which follows soon in the narrative. But the subject of the transfiguration was Jesus’ coming death (His exodus) and the effect of this experience of His majesty upon the three disciples was a blinding, dramatic revelation of His messiahship and Lordship. This is not ‘the Son of Man coming in His kingdom’ which, as the narrative unfolds, comes after the resurrection, exultation and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the inauguration of the New Covenant.
We must take the plain text simply as it comes to us. Jesus’ coming will be ‘seen’ (Grk horao—i.e., understood, experienced) by some of those 12 disciples in their lifetime.
3. Let’s now go to Matthew 24 and the two questions the disciples asked Him after He dropped the bombshell prophesying the destruction of the temple. As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?” (Mat 24:3)
The ‘last days’ in the NT refers to the end of an era, an age, not the end of time or the end of the world! That is a serious error. It is a terrible stumbling block to people reading and understanding the meaning of Jesus’ words. The text is not confusing or unclear about the end of the age. The Jews thought in terms of ‘this age’ and the ‘age to come’ (see Jesus’ words in Mat 12:32).
4. Further in this great discourse we read: And then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven, and then all the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Mat 24:30)
‘They will see’ cannot be forced to mean to ‘see’ with physical eyes as a visible event but they will understand the staggering, horrifying truth of God’s judgment. His Coming would never be seen optically, as He sits at the right hand of power, masked by dark clouds of glory and “who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see” (1 Tim 6:16).
Do you see? Do you understand? Many stumble over this, thinking that because He would not seen by human eyes, then He has not yet come. See?
5. Next, Jesus at His trial before the Sanhedrin: the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:63-64).
Jesus was referring here to His coming (the Parousia)—‘coming on the clouds of heaven’. The question is when would this coming take place? Or has it already taken place?
If Jesus meant His coming was to take place many centuries in the future, then the text would not make sense to us today, because the high priest would have died long before!
It is incumbent on Futurist teachers and commentators to explain how the high priest could be alive to witness Jesus’ exultation and His coming if the coming is yet to take place.
6. At His coming, those who will ’see’ will also include those who have rejected the Messiah, see Rev 1:7: He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth [i.e., the Jews] will mourn over Him.
The visible destruction of Jerusalem and its temple will be the sign that the Son of Man reigns in heaven having ascended to the Father. His throne and reign is taught by the whole New Testament as heavenly, spiritual, not earthly or fleshly. Natural, fleshly Israel, with its temple worship, sacrificial system, priesthood, will all disappear.
People also saw remarkable, visible phenomena: Josephus, Eusebius, Tacitus and the Talmud describe trumpets and angelic voices being heard and supernatural activity observed in the time leading to the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. These things are recorded in many documents. These are historical facts, taking place 2000 years ago.
The above evidence is more than sufficient to demonstrate that our Lord has already come—in dreadful judgment on apostate Israel. We could look also at the dozens of texts in the letters of the New Testament and remark how the writers and apostles saw the Coming of the Lord as imminent, soon.
Thus the ‘great tribulation’ and the destruction of Jerusalem are also in the past. We now freely participate in the Kingdom of God with optimism and joy, till ‘the earth is filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.’ He lives! He reigns forever and ever!