And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.
Lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Jesus Christ led his disciples to think that beyond the redemption which he was working out for them, and subsequent to it in time, was another great deliverance which should prove of unspeakable value to them. This is true now of our discipleship; we look for and we sorely need a second redemption.
I. ITS CHARACTER. It is not, like the first, distinctively and purely spiritual. That was; men were yearning for a political revolution and redemption. But the kingdom of heaven was not to be "of this world;" it was to be wholly inward and spiritual; it was to be our redemption from sin and restoration to the favor and the likeness of our Divine Father. But the second redemption is not distinctively and primarily that of the soul; it is to be "the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23). It will have a gracious and beneficent effect, a redeeming and elevating influence, upon the soul; but in the first instance it is a redemption from a troublous and trying condition; it is being taken away, by the appearance of Christ, in the providence of God, from a state in which happy service is almost impossible; it is a removal from storm to calm, from hostile to friendly forces, from turbulence to serenity; from hard conflict, or tense anxiety, or painful suffering, to "the rest which remaineth for the people of God." It is a blessed and merciful change from unfavourable to favorable conditions.
II. OUR HUMAN NEED OF IT. We are not of this world, we who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ and renewed by the Spirit of God. And we may be nobly, even grandly, victorious over it, being "always caused to triumph" by that Divine Spirit that dwells within us, and "strengthens us with all might." Yet are we actually, and by universal experience, seriously affected by it, and we suffer many things as we pass through it. We may suffer, as the early Christians did (to whom these words were addressed), from persecution, and thereby be made "most miserable" (1 Corinthians 15:19). Our life may be made worthless, or worse than worthless, to us by the cruelties of our fellow-men. Or we may suffer so much from privation of privilege, or from the struggles of daily life, or from grief and disappointment, or from a steadily advancing decrepitude, that we may earnestly long for this second redemption, the redemption of our body. We may be in sore need of its approach, of its presence.
III. ITS KINDLY SHADOW. It will then be much to us, perhaps everything; that our redemption draweth nigh.
1. It is something that at any moment we may be within a step of the heavenly sphere; for anything we know, Christ may be about to say concerning us, "This day ye shall be with me in Paradise."
2. It is more that we may be confident that a life of holy activity will rapidly pass away and bring us to the day of rest and of reward.
3. It is very much indeed that the duration of the blessed future will prove to be such that any number of years of earthly trouble will be nothing in comparison.
4. It is also a truth full of hope and healing that every day spent in faithful service or patient waiting brings us that distance nearer to the blessedness that lies beyond.
"We nightly pitch our moving tent
A day's march nearer home." Beneath the varied and heavy burdens of time we are fain to bow our heads; but we shall lift them up with strength and eager-hearted expectation as we realize that every step forward is a step onward to the heavenly horizon. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.