“Come, O Lord!”
1 Cor 16:22 NIV
A number of exclamations have been common in daily Christian usage. “Praise the Lord” has been one. Another is “Hallelujah”. The early Christians said, “Maran Atha”. The words are Aramaic which was the day- to-day language spoken in Israel in Christ’s day. All his conversations with his disciples would have been in Aramaic. It is similar to Hebrew and came from Syria. “Maran Atha” means, “Come Lord Jesus, Come”.
In the early years of the Christian church they confidently expected Jesus to return – any day! This expectation was a carry-over of the hope the Hebrews had that the Messiah would come soon. Jesus had come. He was the Messiah. He had lived, produced miracles, died and risen. They were living in the messianic age. Then the Holy Spirit had “hit them” and made them new people. The apostles had gone out preaching. The air was alive with drama, miracles, the fulfilment of prophecies and so on. In this atmosphere of buoyant expectancy they believed that soon now the end of the world would come. That meant Christ would come in his final glory. “Maran Atha” became their watchword, their slogan, their hope.
But he didn’t come. Slowly the years started to slip by. The hope that it would happen any day became dimmer – and dimmer. Various ways of thinking had to be adjusted. But hope had become a normal way of thinking, and it was positive, confident and faith-filled.
We still hope for Christ to come again. But we are not straining our eyes to look for him despite the quirky calculations of some. We look towards the Jesus who is ever with us, and we labour on amidst the present problems, disappointments, and frustrations, knowing that in life or in death we are in his hands.
Maran Atha. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.