In the summer of 1941, C.S. Lewis was asked to give an evening sermon at the Oxford University Church of Saint Mary. His sermon was titled, “The Weight of Glory.” In his sermon, he described the longing that humans experience as we await the return of Jesus. In the sermon he described that eager longing as “a desire which no natural happiness will satisfy.”
The only thing that will bring about true satisfaction in this life is the coming glory of God that will be ushered in as Christ returns. Yesterday as I preached Romans 8:18-19 in our ongoing series through Romans—it’s clear that these verses serve as the prelude for what Paul will further develop in verses 20-25. However, it’s likewise clear that both Christians and the non-rational (sub-human) creation as a whole is groaning with expectation for the return of King Jesus.
The children of God live in a broken world filled with sin and suffering. The suffering (πάθημα) can include both persecution and general hardships of life. However, after Adam fell in the Garden and Paradise was lost—sin entered the world and death came as a result of sin (Rom. 5:12). Anyone who desires to live a godly life will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12) and as a result of this broken world—both Christians and non-Christians will endure hardships. The rain falls on the just and the unjust—and so do the results of the curse. If you visit a hospital will you find both believers and non-believers who are occupying the rooms on any given day.
The children of God long for the return of Jesus because such hardships and suffering do not compare to the glory that will be revealed in Jesus. When Christ returns, he will make all things new. The results of Jesus’ future glory for the lives of God’s children include:
- Glorified humanity
- Perfect life without sin
- Food without decay
- Street of gold
- Gates of pearl
- No more sin
- No more disease
- No more pain
- No more death
- No more tears
That’s why it is said of Abraham, he “was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).
Not only do God’s children wait with eager expectation for Jesus to return, but so does all of God’s creation. Both the animate and inanimate creation (sub-human and non-rational) creation. This includes the trees, hills, animal life, and everything that has life. The creation knows that there is a curse upon this earth. The very best day in this life cannot compare to the Garden of Eden. It was a lush and perfect paradise without decay, disease, and death. Yet, after the fall—everything changed. Just look at the location where the Garden of Eden was located in the Middle East region—it’s largely a desert today.
Paul uses personification to describe creation moaning with expectation for Jesus to return. Today, even creation knows that all is not well. Both the animate and inanimate creation feel the curse of this present evil world.
- Desert land
- Lack of water
- Diseased animals
- Bugs that devour plans
- Diseases that kill flowers and fruit and trees
- Polluted water
- Polluted air
One day, the Last Adam (Jesus Christ) will return in glory to usher in his visible Kingdom and he will make all things new! William Hendriksen observes, “Beautiful and very meaningful is the phrase “the revelation of the sons of God. It indicates that not until the day of Christ’s Return will it become a matter of public knowledge how much God loves them and how richly he rewards them.”  In his sermon in 1941, C.S. Lewis described our anticipation by writing the following:
At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in. When human souls have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.
Are you ready for Christ to return? Has the Holy Spirit caused you to find assurance of your salvation and a longing for the return of the King?
- William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, vol. 12–13, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 267.