Question | What will Jesus do in the future?
Answer | Jesus will return to earth one day to gather and deliver all who belong to Him. He will judge everyone else, reign over all the earth, and defeat His enemies forever.
Scripture | Hebrews 9:28 So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Explanation| Jesus Christ has already come to earth and returned to heaven. But, He will come back to earth again one day. Over the last few questions and answers, we’ve looked at what He did while He was on earth during His first coming. We also looked at what He is doing now that He has returned to heaven. But, what will Jesus do in the future?
Jesus will return to earth one day. Throughout the New Testament, we are told that Jesus is coming back.1 But what does this mean? To get us started in the right direction, notice the word will. Jesus will return. What this means is that it is going to happen for sure. It’s guaranteed. Nothing can stop Jesus from coming back.2 What this also means is that it hasn’t happened yet. It’s still future. From the perspective of the New Testament writers—and even ours, today—Jesus hasn’t returned to earth just yet. How do we know? Well, when we are told about Jesus’ return in the Bible, we are often also told about what He will do and what will happen when He comes back (see for example, Revelation 6-22). We’ll look at this a bit more in our next paragraph. But simply put, we know He hasn’t returned because those things haven’t happened. Note also that His return is to earth. We often use return not to describe going to a new place, but to describe going to a place we’ve been to before. Jesus has been here before, which we call His first coming. And, He’ll be here again, which we call His second coming. This is what our verse above states—Christ “will appear a second time” (Hebrews 9:28). Related to this, His return will be similar to His departure. What I mean is that Jesus was visibly (or bodily) taken up into heaven.3 And, He will also return from heaven visibly.4 So, Jesus will return to earth. And it’s going to happen one day. That is, it’s going to take place on a specific day.5 Yet, we don’t know which day it will be—God knows but we do not (Matthew 24:36). Like He had with Jesus’ first coming, the Father has “fixed a day” for when the Son will come again (Acts 17:30-31). So, Jesus will return. But why?
He will deliver all who belong to Him and judge everyone else. In many ways—even as Jesus said—He already did the work His Father sent him to do. In other ways, though, the Bible also tells us that Jesus still has other work to do. But, it’s not as if He only did a halfway job when He came the first time. Rather, He accomplished (past) everything the Father wanted Him to accomplish in His first coming. And, He will accomplish (future) everything the Father wants Him to accomplish when He comes “a second time.” So, His two comings have different purposes. And it’s here that our verse above is, again, helpful. He appeared the first time to “bear the sins of many.” What this means is that Jesus has “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). He “dealt with sin.” That is, Jesus paid what our sin deserved so that we could be forgiven of our sins forever. But, our verse goes on—Jesus “will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Meaning, Jesus has already paid for sin. What remains is for Him to fully and finally ‘deliver all who belong to Him.’ Let me put it like this. Though because of Jesus’ first coming, we can be forgiven of all our sins, we still physically die and we still practically struggle with sin and difficulty in this life. So, while we can be truly saved now, we can’t experience the fullness of our salvation unless—and until—Jesus comes back. And this is true for ‘all who belong to Him.’ But what about ‘everyone else’? What about everyone who doesn’t turn to Him and trust Him for their salvation? The Bible tells us that, while God is patiently giving people time to repent, He will eventually send Jesus to judge everyone who does not believe on Him.6 Jesus, Himself, says “I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).
He will reign over all the earth and defeat His enemies forever. When you hear the word reign, what comes to mind? I’m guessing, a king. Right? Jesus is a king. In fact, He’s the king. But, He’s not yet exercising His rule as king. Jesus will reign and He will reign over all the earth. It just hasn’t happened yet. Jesus has been promised a kingly reign.7 And through His death, resurrection, and ascension during His first coming, He has secured the right to reign as king.8 But right now, “we do not yet see everything in subjection to him” (Hebrews 2:8). Yet, when Jesus comes the second time, the kingdom of the world will “become the kingdom of our Lord.” Then He will begin to reign, and He will “reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15, 17). And His reign will be over all the earth.9 Now, pause right there. This is not simply a word-picture to help us understand what Jesus is like. This will actually happen. Jesus will be physically—not figuratively—on the earth, reigning from David’s throne in the city of Jerusalem in Israel.10 Can you imagine that? Right now, there is no king over all the other nations of the world. Every nation rules itself. And even more, every nation currently rules imperfectly, and many nations rule wickedly. But when Jesus comes, He will rule in perfect righteousness over every nation (Hebrews 1:8). And in fact, according to God’s plan, He must reign “until He has put all His enemies under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25). This includes Satan, too. In Jesus’ second coming, He will take care of Satan once and for all.11 While Jesus’ death and resurrection have truly overcome the power of Satan (for example, see Colossians 2:13-15), he is still very active, “seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). So, Jesus must come back and fully and finally crush Satan.12
This is what the Bible teaches about Jesus.
1 Matthew 24: 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (See also, 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; James 5:7-8; 1 John 2:28)
2 2 Peter 3: 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (See especially the verses leading up to 2 Peter 3:10, vv. 1-9)
3 Acts 1: 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
4 Revelation 1: 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
5 Luke 17: 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot- they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all- 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
6 2 Thessalonians 1: 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering- 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (See also, Acts 10:42; 2 Peter 3:8-10)
7 Luke 1: 32 “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
8 Hebrews 1: 1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (See especially the verses following Hebrews 1:1-4, vv. 5-14)
9 Zechariah 14: 9 And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one.
10 Isaiah 7:9 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
11 Revelation 20:10 And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
12 Romans 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.