"Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play…it is war minus the shooting."
Christ’s appearingFor Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Hebrews 9:24-28
In this passage the writer makes three references to Christ appearing. “Appearing” has the sense of something which had been hidden becoming visible. God’s presence in Christ became visible when Jesus was born as a baby. Revelation 1:7 describing the second coming of Jesus says that every eye shall see him.
These three references to Christ’s appearance should encourage us. V26 says that he appeared “to do away with sin” – that is the essence of the gospel. Jesus came to deal with sin so that we are forgiven and no longer separated from God. V24 tells us that “he is appearing on our behalf in God’s presence”. As one writer put it “he intercedes this very day on our behalf, pleading our case before the Father”*. Then in verse 28, we are reminded that he will appear a second time to bring (or complete) our salvation.
As I ask athletes what I can pray for them, there are many causes of anxiety – getting into the right races, recovering from injury, avoiding injury, performing well at the Olympic trials, being able to fund oneself. Speaking personally I have had more anxiety about health in the past 6 months than in the previous 50 years! In our anxiety we need to remember that Christ appeared to do away with sin – so no need for anxiety about that. Christ is appearing for us in God’s presence and he knows all our cares and anxieties. He will appear again to bring us salvation – so no fear for the future.
But remember that the promise is for those “who are waiting for him”. Live today to the full, thankful for Christ’s appearing but as people who are not just living for the present but waiting for Christ’s appearance.
*Marian Raikes, Encounter with God, SU, 3 May 2016