SUNDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2010.
TEXT: “He who testifies to these things, says yes, I am coming soon”. Amen, come, Lord Jesus. (Rev. 22 V 20)
‘Maranatha’ is a phrase occurring only once in the New Testament. The phrase may have been used as a greeting between Early Christians.
The original Greek meaning of “anathema”, a gift or sacrifice to God, leads to the interpretation that “Anathema-Maranatha“ in a New Testament context could mean “a gift to God at the coming of our Lord”. John Wesley in his notes on the Bible comments that, “it seems to have been customary with the Jews of that age, when they had pronounced any man an Anathema, to add the syriac expression, Maran-atha, that is, “The Lord cometh”, namely, to execute vengeance upon him”.
The Catholic Encyclopedia states, “Anathema signifies also to be overwhelmed with maledictions… At an early date the Church adopted the word anathema to signify the exclusion of a sinner from the society of the faithful; but the anathema was pronounced chiefly against heretics”. The negative understanding of Maranatha began to die out by the late 19th century; Jamiesen, Fausset and Brown’s commentary of 1871 separates Maranatha from anathema in the same way as modern scholars. However, the traditional interpretation is still occasionally found among some Christians today.
Fortunately; the second coming of Jesus shall take place. There are nearly 100 biblical passages discussing the second coming of Jesus Christ. However, we do know it will take place “as lightning”. Matthew 24 V 27 says: “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man”. The implication therefore for the believer is to be ready, the hour, the date is not known and if as a lighting, many will be taken unawares. We ask ourselves, are we ready to meet with our Saviour as He comes?
Those who are ready who have kept the faith and have not soiled themselves are the ones boldly saying “Maranatha”, Amen, come Lord Jesus. Unfortunately in our nation today, not too many people can shout “Maranatha”. The answer is not far-fetched. We have allowed evil to overwhelm us and the bye-product is what we are reaping currently. Too much shedding of blood, armed robbery, kidnapping, prostitution etc, to mention but a few. An inscription somewhere says; “Man stop that there is no gain in sin”.
Our God is a merciful one; He desires not the death of a sinner rather that he repents and come to the knowledge of His Son. The scriptural warning is very useful here; “Nothing impure will ever enter it (heaven), nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life”. God is giving us a chance to make amends in order to avoid eternal damnation. I think no time is better than now to avoid “had I known”.
Let us use the occasion of the second coming of Christ to draw closer to Him. No effort should be spared in this regard. Just think of heaven, think of His second coming that must surely be: “MARANATHA”.
Purify me Saviour of the
world, purify the world
you have redeemed by
your precious blood, and more
importantly give me a place
in your eternal Kingdom, through
Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.
Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,