There is a 6-year-old boy I don’t get to see often, but when I do I find him every inch a boy—well versed on Spider-Man and all his nemeses, able to leap tall beds in a single bound to pounce on his cousin, invincible against his grandmother with a 4-foot foam sword. When he sleeps over and I tuck him in, he asks for stories about Jesus, so I tell him. There is a subversive feel about the disclosures, like I imagine in the catacombs of ancient Rome by candlelight.
Recently we were alone in the car, not saying much, and he suddenly exclaimed, “I can’t wait to see Jesus on the clouds.” He said it with the excitement he might reserve for a trip to Cirque du Soleil with Dad on the upcoming weekend. Like it was something almost touchable.
When was the very last time anyone ever saw Jesus? It was a group of men and women looking up at the sky as Jesus was assumed, body and all, into the clouds. A couple of angels finally had to tell them to stop gawking and get on with it:
“… as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 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.’”
The thought of Jesus coming back on the clouds is so like the best fairy tales of childhood that one is tempted to think it may be pious religious mythology, or a pretty metaphor and nothing more. But it is actually well documented in Scripture, as if it were important to God that we know. Daniel first mentions the Son of Man coming with the clouds and being handed the kingdom by the Ancient of Days. The New Testament corroborates the prediction a number of times, including in Matthew’s Gospel:
“Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).
Jesus even thought to tell Caiaphas about it (Matthew 26:64).
In 1 Thessalonians, Paul casts this vision for us:
“Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
And then said:
“Encourage one another with these words.”
If someone you know is suffering or needs cheering up, describe to them Jesus coming back on the clouds. It was apparent to me that my grandson has been carrying around that picture in the back pocket of his mind for ages. It makes him glad just to imagine the parting clouds in his Spider-Man-filled brain. If I know him, he probably likes best the part about us being caught up and meeting him in the air.