Loving His Appearing
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for
me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only
to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Tim 4:7-8)
These are among some of the last recorded words of the apostle Paul. The world might look at Paul’s life as the
life of someone who threw away a promising career. He had been excelling in Judaism, but he gave that up to
follow Jesus. Furthermore, as a disciple of Jesus, he effectively ruined his life by being ostracized and
persecuted by his own people. Eventually, he was condemned to death (although the precise reasons for this are
admittedly unknown to us). For all of this, Paul would disagree with the worldly assessment. As far as Paul was
concerned, his life was well lived, because it was lived for Christ.
In addition to viewing his life as an effective success (fighting the good fight and finishing the race), Paul also
sees his life as something that will bring him reward. Because he forsook the riches of this world to adopt the
sufferings of Christ, Paul knows that there is a crown of righteousness laid up for him. He knows that the Lord
will rescue him from every evil deed and bring him safely into the heavenly kingdom (2 Tim 4:18). He knew
the promise later uttered in John’s vision of Jesus—that those who are faithful until death get the crown of life
(Rev 2:10). Paul has an unshakeable hope in Christ, even at the point of death, and goes to his grave without
But in addition to even that, Paul also adds that this crown of righteousness is available, not just to himself, but
to “all who have loved his appearing.” What does this mean? We might be a little baffled at this qualifier. Why
would anyone not love the appearing of Jesus? The appearance of Jesus will mean salvation and joy and peace.
It will mean an end to all the wrongs of this world and the ultimate triumph of good over evil! What is not to
It turns out though, that some do not love Christ’s appearing. This would include those who don’t even believe
in Christ, since the appearance of a being they don’t believe in would leave them with some serious awkward
embarrassment and some rather unpleasant egg on their face (to understate the problem). But it would also
include those who profess belief in Christ, but who don’t love him enough to prepare for his coming! Perhaps
there are too many other tasks to worry about. There are too many passing distractions. Jobs have to get done.
Bills have to get paid. Movies aren’t going to watch themselves. With all of the concerns of life (mandatory or
not), it is easy to forget our real calling and our real citizenship. We might derive pleasure from chasing some of
the things this world has to offer. This is not necessarily bad in and of itself—until we become too attached.
How many of us would trade the events we are waiting on in this life for the appearance of Jesus? How many
can genuinely say they are joyous at the very real prospect that Jesus could come back today! Jesus told a
parable about a slave who didn’t want his master to come home. “If that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will
be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get
drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not
know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers” (Luke 12:45-46). This slave was
not joyous at the idea of his master coming home. He did not love his master’s appearing. His behavior was
characteristic of a man who says, “Don’t come home just yet! Stay away! I don’t want you to catch me in the
Do we do this with Jesus? How many of us would find ourselves embarrassed if Jesus came back today? What
would he find us doing? What would he find us thinking about? Are they things that would make us “love” his
appearing? Or would we be desperate for him to take five more minutes while we “straighten up” the messes we
made? May God help us to love his appearing!