Resurrection reconstruction


Can we harmonise the accounts of the resurrection?

In order to do this we will go back to the evening before the crucifixion and try to put the characters in place.   Much of this reconstruction is based on John Wenham’s book ‘Easter Enigma.’

Thursday evening.

On the Thursday night Jesus ate the Passover with the disciples in Jerusalem.  Judas left in the course of the meal to arrange Jesus’ arrest.  Jesus left with the eleven disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley to enter the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed.  Along with the disciples we have the person of Mark who is the young man who fled from the scene (in some disarray), mentioned in Mark 14.51-52.  We know from Acts 12.12 that Mark’s family had a house in Jerusalem where the disciples met.  From this we can conclude that they were wealthy Jerusalemites who were followers of Jesus.   In this case the Garden of Gethsemane could also have belonged to them and may have contained a walled garden as well as a room where Mark was sleeping at the time of the arrest of Jesus.    

Gethsemane means ‘oil press’ which suggests that the garden was actually a profit-making olive grove. Such property would include an oil press and some farm buildings. It would be likely to have been surrounded by a high wall to protect it from Jerusalem’s hungry populace, a supposition that is supported by the fact Jesus and his disciples could find privacy there even during the great festivals. Since Jesus had ‘often met there with his disciples’ (Luke 22:13; John 18:2), the owner had apparently placed this garden at his disposal for some time.  Judas would have been aware of this location and knew it was a place where the arrest of Jesus could take place without crowds around to witness it and cause trouble (Matthew 26.5).

Jesus prayed to the Father in great agony about the coming crucifixion.  The disciples slept during this time and He then awoke them and warned them that He was about to be arrested.  He referred to the prophecy in Zechariah 13.7 that the Shepherd would be struck down and the sheep scattered (Matthew 26.31).

Judas arrived with an arresting party consisting of members of the Temple guard and soldiers from the Roman garrison stationed at the Antonio Fort.  Jesus came to them at the garden gate, and as they backed away in fear, they fell over one another in disarray. The disciples emerged and a scuffle ensued, which Jesus terminated by making clear that He chose to give Himself up. He demanded that His disciples be allowed to leave.

Gethsemane is on the east side of Jerusalem at the bottom of the Mount of Olives below the Temple Mount.   The fleeing disciples would be more likely to go in the direction of Bethany which is just over the Mount of Olives than into the now dangerous city of Jerusalem where Jesus was being taken.   As they escaped Mark was nearly caught (Mark 14.51-2).  Jesus had friends in Bethany (Lazarus and family – John 11-12) and they would have been safer there than in Jerusalem.

Peter and John turned back, perhaps thinking better of fleeing to Bethany and followed the company who had arrested Jesus, which went to the High Priest’s residence.  In the courtyard of the house of Caiaphas, Peter denied Jesus (John 18.15-18).  

John had access to the High Priest (John 18.15-16).  A probable explanation for this is that the family of Zebedee (which James and John belonged to) were more than simple fishermen from Galilee.  Mark 1.19 says Zebedee had ‘hired men’ in the boat with him, suggesting he was the head of a fishing business.  If so they could have had connections with Jerusalem where they supplied the High Priest’s household with fish.  John could also have had a house in Jerusalem used for this business.  This is suggested in John 19.27.   The resurrection accounts suggest that John knew his way around Jerusalem well.   There is also a possibility that John’s family could have been connected to the priesthood.  

After this event, John took Peter to his home in Jerusalem, where Zebedee and Salome, Clopas and Mary, and Jesus’ mother were waiting for them.    These were the figures who were going to play a part in the following events.

Who were the women?

A number of women played an important role in the crucifixion and resurrection accounts.  

Mary the mother of Jesus.  

We do not need to discuss her identity because it is obvious.  

Mary Magdalene.

There has been all kind of speculation about Mary Magdalene.  Many modern sceptical views of the Gospels, including ‘The Da Vinci Code’ novel by Dan Brown, put forward the view that she was Jesus’ wife, which is totally wrong.   For more on this subject go to chapter 5 of our article ‘The Da Vinci Code – shaking the foundations of Christianity?’  Mary Magdalene was a devoted follower of Jesus who had experienced a life changing deliverance from evil spirits through His ministry (Luke 8.2).

John Wenham puts forward the view that Mary Magdalene is the same person as Mary of Bethany.  He points out that Mary of Bethany showed great spiritual insight into the coming event of the crucifixion and burial of the Lord when she anointed Him with costly oil (John 12.1-10).  He says that in the light of this, it is unlikely that she would not have been present at the crucifixion.   

His explanation for the name ‘Magdalene’ which suggests a connection with Magdala in Galilee (a long way from Bethany!) is that Mary was a woman who left home and got into sinful ways in Magdala (which was a resort town on the lake used by Romans).  After meeting Jesus, she repented and returned to the family home.  This was why Jesus was such a welcome guest at the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha.  He connects the unusual action of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet and washed them with her hair recorded in Luke 7.36-50 with the similar action of Mary of Bethany (John 12.1-10).    Although the woman in Luke 7 is not identified by name, she is generally believed to be Mary Magdalene (who is identified by name in the following chapter – Luke 8.2).  It is not essential for the following scenario for Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany to be the same person, but this is an interesting possibility.

Other women.

‘There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the less and Joses, and Salome.’  Mark 15.40.

Matthew 27.56 and Mark 15.40 identify three women watching the crucifixion at a distance, while John 18.25-26 mentions Jesus’ mother and three other women standing by the cross.   It is reasonable to assume that the three women mentioned in these three Gospels (apart from Mary the mother of Jesus) are the same women.  (Note – all women called ‘Mary’ in the Gospels were really known by their Hebrew name of Miriam, just as all men called ‘James’ were really known as Yakov / Jacob).

If we do a bit of detective work we can find out who the three women mentioned in Matthew 27.56, Mark 15.40 and John 18.25-26 are.

  1. The first woman is called Mary Magdalene in all three Gospels.
  2. The second woman is called the mother of the sons of Zebedee (by Matthew), Salome (by Mark), and Jesus’ mother’s sister (by John). Therefore, Salome is the sister of Mary (the mother of Jesus).  She and Zebedee are the parents of the apostles James and John.  Therefore James and John are Jesus’ cousins.  
  3. The third woman is called the mother of James and Joseph or the other Mary (by Matthew), the mother of Joses or the mother of James (by Mark), and the wife of Clopas (by John). Therefore, Mary and Clopas are the parents of James the younger, who is most likely the other (‘lesser’) apostle James. The fact James is described in the lists of apostles as the son of Alphaeus (Luke 6.15) is no bar to this conclusion because Clopas and Alphaeus could well be two Greek transliterations of the same Aramaic name.  According to the church historian Eusebius, the second-century historian Hegesippus asserted that Clopas was the brother of Joseph, the Virgin Mary’s husband.  Clopas and Cleopas (Luke 24.18) are almost certainly the same person.

In this case there is a family connection between these women and Jesus’ natural family.  This also explains why Cleopas, an unknown figure elsewhere in the Gospel, was one of those who saw Jesus on the first day of the resurrection appearances.

Another woman mentioned in Luke’s account of the resurrection is Joanna, along with ‘the other women with them’ (Luke 24.10).  Joanna is described in Luke 8.3 as a well-to-do woman who helped to support Jesus financially, along with Susanna and ‘many others’. Joanna’s husband was steward to Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee and Perea. She may have been well acquainted with Joseph of Arimathea.   

Friday morning and afternoon.

Apart from John, the disciples are notable for their absence from the crucifixion accounts in all four Gospels.  Peter was most likely in Jerusalem hiding and feeling condemned because of his denial of Jesus.  Judas had hung himself.  The remaining disciples had fled, most likely to Bethany where they would have been in a state of acute anxiety.  

As news of the trial and sentence of Jesus spread, Mary Magdalene came from Bethany to Jerusalem to join Salome, the other Mary and Mary the mother of Jesus.  Early in the crucifixion, these women were allowed by the centurion to come near to the cross; other relatives and followers of Jesus (including Joanna and ‘the other women’) stood further back. Jesus committed his mother to John’s care, and John and Salome took her to their home in the city (John 18.25-27).

After staying with Mary for a while, John returned to the crucifixion and witnessed the end. After Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea obtained  permission from Pilate to bury him, and the body was taken to Joseph’s tomb. There was insufficient time to prepare the body adequately for burial, so Joseph and Nicodemus temporarily packed it in a large supply of dry spices.   Joanna and Susanna followed Joseph into the tomb and helped to lay out the body while Mary Magdalene and Mary the wife of Clopas watched at a respectful distance. The four women conferred and agreed to return at first light on Sunday to anoint the body as best they could. Before leaving they saw Joseph’s servants roll the great stone against the entrance of the tomb.   Joanna and Susanna returned to the Hasmonean Palace and prepared spices and ointments. Mary Magdalene and Mary the wife of Clopas went to John’s house, it being too late for Mary Magdalene to return to Bethany.

Saturday / Sabbath

Members of the Sanhedrin sent a deputation to Pilate to procure guards for the tomb. The tomb was sealed, and the Temple guard, backed by a contingent of Roman soldiers, set up a watch (Matthew 28.62-66).   After the Sabbath rest, Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Salome bought spices for the anointing of the body of Jesus. Perhaps Salome bought the spices on behalf of the three of them, while Mary Magdalene and Mary the wife of Clopas (accompanied by her husband since it was after sundown) ventured to Bethany to tell the disciples what had happened.

Resurrection Day morning.

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Clopas and Salome began their journey to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, where Jesus had been buried. They began their journey to the tomb from the house in Jerusalem, and also planned on re-wrapping Jesus’ body with additional spices beyond those which Nicodemus and Joseph had already used on Friday. This was necessary to complete the burial rites which had been hurried up on Friday because of the short time before the Sabbath.  They had bought the additional spices with their own money (Mark 16:1).

As the women were travelling (before they arrived at the tomb), there was an earthquake, during which an angel descended from heaven and removed the stone which was in front of Jesus’ tomb. By the time the women reached the tomb, the sun had risen and it was light (Mark 16:2).

The women had been wondering, as they were travelling, who would move the large stone for them, only to look up and see that the stone had already been rolled away. Mary Magdalene jumped to the conclusion that the body had been stolen and therefore immediately ran back to tell Peter and John (John 20.2), while the other women remained.

According to Luke’s account (Luke 24.10) Joanna accompanied by ‘the other women’ were also present at the tomb and told these things to the apostles. As Salome and Mary the wife of Clopas were considering what to do, Joanna and ‘the other women’ (including Susanna?) arrived, having come as agreed to help complete the burial rites. When these women went into the tomb to verify that the body was in fact missing, the angels made themselves visible and delivered their message, which included instructions to inform the disciples.  

The angels at this point delivered their message to the terrified women, who were bowing their faces into the ground: ‘Do not be afraid; for I know you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Here is the place He was laying. Remember how He spoke to you while in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again? And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you’ (Matthew. 28. 5-8).

Luke 24.4 says that ‘two men stood by them in shining garments’ and gave them a similar message.  John Wenham points out that the verb translated here ‘stood by them’ could also be translated ‘appeared to,’ implying suddenness, but not any specific position. The angels appeared in a sitting position, as Mark 16.5 says, to minimise the alarm of their sudden presence. Also, they may not have fully manifested themselves to the women until they entered, otherwise their majestic presence may have made the women too fearful to approach and enter the tomb.

The women rushed back into the city to do this.  On the way, Jesus met them (Matthew 28.9).  The women remembered Jesus’ words and were gripped with astonishment, trembling, and joy. They did not speak to anyone they met on their way back about the events, as Mark 16:8 says: ‘and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.’  When they found the disciples they told them what had happened.

Peter and John, having heard from Mary Magdalene that someone had stolen the Lord’s body, ran to the tomb with Mary Magdalene trailing behind.  The other women, being less familiar with Jerusalem, took a less direct route from the tomb to John’s house, so the two groups did not meet.  Salome and Mary the wife of Clopas headed to Bethany to tell the news to the disciples there.

By this time, Peter and John were well on their way to the tomb, having been informed by Mary Magdalene that the body was gone. (John 20.2-10).  They had set off on the most direct course, through the Gennath Gate, and were running, whereas the other women were returning to the house via the Ephraim gate (which was a longer way back to John’s house).

Mary Magdalene followed behind Peter and John at a slower pace (this being her second trip to the tomb). During their run for the tomb, John passed Peter and arrived first, but did not immediately enter. Instead, he stooped and looked into the tomb, seeing the linen wrappings lying there.  Peter then arrived and entered ahead of John and saw the linen wrappings and the face-cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, neatly rolled up.  John then entered, and he saw and believed.

As they returned home marvelling at what had happened, Mary Magdalene lingered behind, weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she looked into the tomb and saw two angels sitting in white, one at the head and one at the feet where Jesus had been lying.  (John 20.11-18).

The angels asked Mary why she was crying, and she responded that it was because someone had taken away Jesus’ body, and she did not know where they had put Him. The angels did not need to respond to this, for they could see Jesus standing behind her. When Mary turned around, she at first mistook Jesus for the gardener, but recognized Him when He addressed her by name.

Jesus told her to ‘Stop clinging to Me’ (John 20:17).   Jesus was not saying that He should not ever be touched, but giving her assurance that she need not fear to leave Him because He is not going to immediately leave again.  His ascension to the Father is not yet. So, she was free to go and tell the news to the others, and proceeded to John’s house. Also, Jesus’ statement ‘Go tell my brethren I ascend to My Father and your Father’ called attention back to the promise he made before the crucifixion that the disciples would have peace and rejoice after the resurrection (John 14:27-28) so that ‘when it comes to pass, (they) may believe’ (John 14:29).

In the meantime, immediately after Mary Magdalene had departed from her encounter with Jesus, Jesus appeared to the other women, Mary the wife of Clopas and Salome, as they were returning to tell the disciples  (Matthew 28.9).

They took hold of His feet and worshipped Him, and He greeted them and told them not to fear, but to take word to the disciples that they are to go to Galilee. This did not mean that the disciples were to leave immediately for Galilee.  They would have been expected to stay in Jerusalem for the remaining days of the feast of unleavened bread.

It was more an announcement of the fulfilment of the promise given before the crucifixion in Matthew 26:31-32: ‘You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.’  Jesus’ ministry had begun in Galilee and after the resurrection He would re-gather them to speak to them of the coming task of spreading the Gospel message.  

As the women continued on their way back, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests what had happened. (Matthew 28.11-15) After the chief priests and the elders had counselled together, they gave the soldiers a bribe, telling them to say that Jesus’ disciples stole His body at night while they slept, assuring them that if the governor heard about it, they would keep them out of trouble. So, the guards took the money and did what they were told, and this story of the stolen body was spread widely among the Jews, up to the day that Matthew’s gospel was written, to explain away the empty tomb.

When Mary returned to John’s house, she announced to the disciples there (who were mourning and weeping) that she had seen Jesus and told them what He had said. The other women had returned before Mary, and were also there ‘telling these things to the apostles’ (Luke 24:10).  The women’s words seemed like nonsense to the apostles, and they refused to believe, but Peter arose again and returned to the tomb to investigate once more (perhaps he would encounter Jesus as well). He saw the linen wrappings again, and then returned to his home, marvelling at what had happened.

The next appearance of Jesus is briefly mentioned in Mark 16:12, but the full story is told in Luke 24:13-34. Later that morning, Cleopas and his companion were travelling to Emmaus, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem. As they travelled, Jesus approached them. Not knowing who He was, they discussed the events of the previous week, and Jesus explained all the things about Himself in the Old Testament. When they reached the village, it appeared to them as if Jesus was going to continue on, so they persuaded Him to join them for the afternoon meal. As they were breaking bread, He made Himself known to them, and then disappeared.

This prompted the two (Cleopas and his companion) to return to the house in Jerusalem where ten of the apostles were gathered (Thomas was absent). When they arrived, they were greeted with the news ‘The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon’ (Luke 24:34). Luke’s record of this point may seem to contradict Mark’s statement that their report was greeted with unbelief (Mark 16:13), however it should be noted that a few verses later, when Jesus is present, Luke himself says, ‘they still disbelieved for joy.’ Most surely, the ten apostles present were in various states of part-belief and part-unbelief. John’s faith had begun to recover at seeing the grave clothes, and Peter had come to believe through his afternoon meeting with Jesus. The appearance to Peter during that Sunday afternoon (Luke 24.34), which happened after Jesus’ appearance to the Emmaus disciples but before they returned to Jerusalem, is in line with what Paul relates in 1 Corinthians. 15:5.

Paul went on to say that Jesus next appeared to ‘the twelve.’ Paul’s use of ‘the twelve’ is a way of referring to the apostolic body collectively, as a group, not an exact numerical computation. The apostles were known collectively as the twelve. It is also highly likely that the man who would later take Judas’s office as apostle was present at this appearance (confer Acts 1:21-22). 

The details of this appearance are recorded in Luke 24:36-49 and John 20: 19-24: As the Emmaus disciples were continuing to relate their experience, Jesus suddenly stood among them (though the doors were locked) and said to them ‘Peace be with you’ (John 20:19). They were startled and frightened at first, thinking that they were seeing a spirit. Jesus gently reproached them for their unbelief, saying ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have’ (Luke 24:39). He then showed them His hands, feet, and side. While they were marvelling over this, still not entirely convinced and wondering if it was too good to be true, Jesus offered further proof by eating a piece of broiled fish in their presence.

Jesus then proceeded to explain to them, as Luke records in 24:44-49, that the amazing events of the past week were predicted in the Hebrew Scriptures and fulfilled by Him, and opened their mind so that they would understand. After summarising what was written, ‘that the Messiah should suffer and rise again from the dead on the third day,’ Jesus naturally led into the earliest pronouncement of the Great Commission. He told His disciples that beginning in Jerusalem, repentance for forgiveness of sins should be preached to all nations in His name, and that they were eyewitnesses with a special responsibility to carry out this message.

Luke 24 may appear to imply that all the events from the resurrection to the ascension happened in one day.  When read in conjunction with Acts 1 (also written by Luke) this is clearly not the case.   Acts 1.3 says that Jesus was on earth for forty days before ascending and demonstrates that Luke 24 gives a highly condensed and telescoped account that he expanded in his second book, Acts. In his gospel, Luke is showing how Jesus explained what had happened at the crucifixion to the disciples and commissioning them (Luke 24.44-49).  This is followed by a short account of the events of Ascension Day (Luke 24.50-53) which is given more detail in Acts 1.1-12.

In John’s account Jesus also reconfirmed their role as witnesses, saying ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you’ (John 20.21). Then He breathed on them, giving them a filling of the Spirit for strength until the Church was born on Pentecost, when they and all believers from then on would be permanently indwelt with the Spirit. Through the Spirit, they would bring forgiveness to those who accepted the gospel, and condemnation to those who rejected it (John 20:23).

One week after Resurrection Day.

Later on when the disciples told Thomas, who was absent on Resurrection Day, that they saw the Lord, he said he would not believe unless he saw the nail prints in Jesus’ hands and side. A week later John records the last appearance in Jerusalem before the disciples headed back to Galilee.  This time Thomas was present and Jesus showed that he had heard Thomas doubting words by inviting him to ‘Reach your finger here and look at My hands; and reach your hand here and put it into my side.  Do not be unbelieving but believing.’ This led Thomas to His confident affirmation of faith in Jesus, ‘My Lord and my God!’ (John 20.26-29).

Over the next weeks.

Over the next few weeks, there were many other times of fellowship between Jesus and His apostles. John 21.1-25 tells us about Jesus’ third appearance to the disciples as a group, when He appeared to seven of them by the Lake of Tiberias (possibly commanding them at this point to organize a meeting with the 500).

The appearance to more than 500, recorded in 1 Corinthians 15.6, was possibly the appearance recorded in Matthew 28.16-20 in the hills of Galilee (since 500 people would require such a large, outdoor meeting spot), when Jesus gave the Great Commission. This was in fulfilment of Jesus’ command of His disciples to go to Galilee. Here, they reformed their ranks for the awesome task of making the gospel known to the whole world. It is also possible that the appearance to the 500 was a separate appearance which occurred at some other time. However, the statement in Matthew 28.17 that some were doubtful seems to imply a greater group of disciples than just the inner twelve. Since this was the first time for the larger group to see Jesus, it is not unreasonable to believe that some of them would have doubted, while most of the disciples (but not necessarily all) would have been confident by now that Jesus had really risen.

The next appearance of Jesus was to His brother James, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians. 15.7. Because of this meeting, Jesus’ previously sceptical brother came to believe and went on to be the head of the Jerusalem church.

Final appearance and ascension.

Jesus’ final appearance was forty days after His resurrection. Paul says: ‘Then (He appeared) to all the apostles’ (1 Corinthians. 15.7). Mark 16.15-20, Luke 24.50-53, and Acts 1.1-12 give the details of this final appearance.  

Jesus appeared to His disciples while they were in Jerusalem, most likely as they were gathered together in the house. Perhaps He appeared the night before and they talked through the night, or perhaps early in the morning. No doubt Jesus must have told them many things, including the commission recorded in Mark 16:15-18 to ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’

The account in Mark 16:1-20 spans the whole period from Resurrection Day to Ascension Day. Verses 1-14 describe what happened on Resurrection Day and verses 15-18 what happened on Ascension Day.  The word ‘and’ which begins verse 15 does not necessarily connect this verse to the previous one.   In fact it is quite a habit of Mark to start a new paragraph with an ‘and’ which in idiomatic English is often best left un-translated. It would seem best to regard 15-20 as a single unit, telling of the final instructions to the eleven immediately before the ascension and of their mighty preaching afterwards.

In Luke’s account we read that Jesus then led His disciples ‘out of the city gate, down into the Kidron valley, past the Garden of Gethsemane, up the Mount of Olives, and finally out as far as Bethany.’ ‘As far as Bethany’ is the translation of an unusual expression, which may perhaps be better rendered ‘as far as the path to Bethany.’ E.E.F. Bishop says that it ‘would appear to mean the Mount of Olives at the summit where the descent to Bethany comes into view’ (John Wenham, Easter Enigma: Are the Resurrection Accounts in Conflict?, p. 121). The ascension occurred at the Mount of Olives, which is about a mile from Jerusalem on the path to Bethany.

Jesus’ last words were spoken on the Mount of Olives and are recorded in Acts 1:4-8. After He had spoken to them, He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He ascended. As the disciples were looking on, they saw a cloud finally take Jesus out of their sight and He was then ‘received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God’ (Mark 16:19). As the disciples remained gazing up into the sky, two angels in white clothing stood beside them and informed them that Jesus would return in exactly the same way that He left.

In the description in Acts 1.9 we read that ‘He was taken up and a cloud received Him from their sight.’  The cloud is the glory cloud or Shekinah that appeared to Israel on significant occasions.  It filled the tabernacle when it was consecrated (Exodus 40.34-38) and the Temple (1 Kings 8.10-13).  The glory cloud represents the place where God dwells.  According to His own prophecy Jesus said He will return in ‘the clouds of heaven’:  ‘Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven 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.  This is a reference to Daniel 7.13-14:  ‘I was watching in the night visions and behold One like the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven.  He came to the Ancient of Days and they brought Him near before Him.  Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.’

At His second coming Jesus will come on the clouds of heaven to take dominion over the kingdoms of the world and set up the Messianic kingdom in His millennial reign.  He will return to the same place from which He ascended, the Mount of Olives, at a time of conflict over Jerusalem, according to Zechariah 14: ‘Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as He fights in the day of battle.  And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which faces Jerusalem on the east.  …  Thus the Lord my God will come and all the saints with you. … And the Lord shall be King over all the earth in that day it shall be, ‘The Lord is one and His name one.’

For more on this subject go to our articles Messiah and the end of days and Why the Second Coming? and Will there be a Messianic Kingdom?