Now or Later

On Palm Sunday, the followers of Christ cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” The word, hosanna, is a command that means “cause us to be saved now.” Those who cast the palm branches along the road as Jesus traveled to Jerusalem desired Jesus to save them now. Specifically, they wanted the Son of David, the rightful heir to the throne of David, to save them immediately. The salvation that they demanded was a political salvation, not a spiritual one. They wanted Jesus, the King of the Jews, to redeem Israel from the hand of the Romans, not from the bondage of their sinful rebellion against God (Luke 24:21). They wanted a political savior, not a personal savior who would deliver them from their sins. And they wanted Jesus to save them NOW!!

But these followers of Christ were wrong about what was supposed to happen now and what was supposed to happen later. They wanted the glory of Christ’s reign at that moment. They wanted the glory now, but that glory was reserved for later. The Scriptures taught that “now” was the time for Christ’s suffering! “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26) Suffering now; glory later! After the events of Palm Sunday, Jesus taught that He would come again with great glory! (Luke 21:27) But now was the time for the Passover Lamb to be sacrificed. (Luke 22:7)

The first and second comings of Christ, the now and the later, outline a pattern that is wise for all of us to consider as followers of Christ. As followers of Christ, now is a time for suffering, later will be a time for glory. “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). “But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:13). “That you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God for which you also suffer” (2 Thessalonians 1:5). That is the now! “When He comes in that Day to be glorified in His Saints” (2 Thessalonians 1:10). That is the later!

It is important for us to think correctly about what we should expect in both the now and the later. Today, when you live godly in Christ Jesus, you should expect persecution. But it is the glory that will be revealed that allows us to rejoice in partaking in the sufferings of Christ. When we live life in this fallen world we should expect pain and sickness and suffering. But in glory there will be no more pain, sickness or death. The disciples, when they had the wrong expectation concerning the now and later, were full of gloom and sadness (Luke 24:17), but when they understood the necessity of the death and resurrection of Christ for their salvation they were exceedingly glad (Luke24:52). Luke 24 concludes with the disciples walking back to Jerusalem. It is very likely that this road took them past the place of the crucifixion, but they were no longer sad that Jesus didn’t save them now, but they were full of great joy as they fixed their hope on the gospel of Christ and the glory which shall be revealed in them later.
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