March 11, 1942, was a dark, desperate day at Corregidor. The Pacific theater of war was threatening and bleak. One island after another had been buffeted into submission. The enemy was now marching into the Philippines as confident and methodically as the star band in the Rose Bowl parade. Surrender was inevitable. The brilliant and bold soldier, Douglas MacArthur, had only three words for his comrades as he stepped into the escape boat destined for Australia: "I shall return." Upon arriving nine days later in the port of Adelaide, the sixty-two-year-old military statesman closed his remarks with this sentence: "I came through and I shall return."
Nineteen hundred years earlier someone else promised that he would return. Jesus Christ promised his disciples the night before his crucifixion, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-3 NKJV). The apostle Peter reaffirmed that promise many years later when he wrote, "Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation' . . . But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:1-4,8,9 NKJV). One thing in which mankind can be certain: the Lord Jesus Christ will keep his promise.
The New Testament contains many passages of admonition and encouragement concerning our Lord's return. For example, the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Christians, " it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power," (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 NKJV). He also wrote to Timothy, his son in the gospel, "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:6-8 NKJV). How we live our lives in accordance to God's word will determine whether christ's return will be a time of sorrow or of joy.
MacArthur kept his promise to return to the Philippines a little over 2 1/2 years later -- October 20, 1944, to be exact. Upon landing safely at Leyte Island, he declared, "I have returned!" When the Lord fulfills his promise and returns, he will not need to declare his return for all will know - every eye will see him and every knee will bow before him. The entire universe will know He has Returned.