When General Douglas MacArthur left the Philippines in the early part of World War II, he made a short speech: "I will return." Later on in the war, he came back to the Philippines in victory. Cameras recorded his wading ashore. He made another speech: "I have returned." The first speech would have been worthless without the second, which gave it force and meaning.

    Because he led the armed forces that liberated the Philippines, MacArthur has been a hero in that country. It is reported that to this very day, whenever a group of Philippine soldiers answer roll call, after the last name is called, they always add, "Douglas MacArthur," and someone always answers, "Here!"

    When we call the roll of the church on earth, Christ is really here. It is not symbolic. It is not a gesture. Jesus promised to rise from the dead, and He delivered. How hollow that promise would have been if He had not come back from the dead. But because He rose from the dead, Jesus can and does keep His promise that He made to His disciples, that "surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20 NIV).

    We can take courage that on our best days, or in our worst nightmares, it is not some imposter who answers "Here!" Jesus IS here!


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