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Maranatha!

Have you ever noticed how many bland and meaningless clichés we use every day when we greet one another or say good-by? Most of them are harmless, but an equal number are downright irritating. Continue reading . . .

Have you ever noticed how many bland and meaningless clichés we use every day when we greet one another or say good-by? Most of them are harmless, but an equal number are downright irritating. For example, I have in mind things like: “Hi! How are you doing?”, when in fact the person who greets you with those words probably couldn’t care less how you’re doing and is more than mildly terrified that you might even answer them with a long and drawn out sob story that will occupy the next several hours of their already busy day!

Saying good-bye can be just as bad. We hear and say things like: “Keep in touch,” while secretly hoping that they’ll do no such thing, or “We’ll get together for lunch sometime soon,” praying all the while that they won’t take you seriously. And then there is the ever-present, “Have a nice day!”

Not everyone in every age parted company like that. When Christians in the first century said good-by they uttered one word, one that was full of meaning, a word that gave expression to their heart-felt and deepest desires. That word was, “Maranatha!” It simply means, “Our Lord comes.” Or it may even be a prayer, “Come, Lord!”

I seriously doubt if “Maranatha” ever degenerated into a meaningless courtesy along the lines of our “Have a nice day.” The reason is that for believers in the first century the promise and prospect of the second coming of Christ was a vital part of their daily existence. They lived in constant expectation and anticipation of Christ’s return, and their parting words to fellow believers reflected that.

I don’t mind telling you that my greatest hope for the future is the soon return of Jesus to this earth. There are a lot of things in life that I’m looking forward to, but nothing can compare with my sense of expectation in view of Christ’s Second Advent.

Are you aware that even nature itself, the physical creation, in a sense is looking forward to the day when Jesus will return and consummate his work of redemption? In Romans 8:19 Paul tells us that “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” The Phillips translation puts it this way: “The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own.”

In some mysterious and unexplained way, says Paul, the flowers and rivers and valleys and mountains and stars of the sky all wait in eager expectation for the glory to be revealed when Jesus comes back! I really like the way Joni Eareckson Tada explains it:

“The creation is groaning and longing for the day when God will release it from its bondage and usher in a new era with Christ as King. Can you hear the sighing in the wind? Can you feel the heavy silence in the mountains? Can you sense the restless longing in the sea? Something’s coming . . . something better. But consider this: If the creation has an earnest expectation, surely we believers – the sons and daughters of God – should have nothing less! If the whole inanimate and brute creation is eagerly expecting, earnestly looking forward to the appearing of Jesus and all that means, this same kind of hope should be much more evident in you and me. . . . If nature waits on tiptoe for the coming of Jesus, you and I shouldn’t be caught flat-footed!” (346-7).

“You and I shouldn’t be caught flat-footed!” I like that. May our anticipation and passionate longing and always energetic expectation of the Lord’s return fill our hearts each day. Maranatha!

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