Early in the year 1910 Rudolf Steiner is believed to have spoken for the first time on the mystery of the true nature of the Second Coming. Throughout that year he gave a number of lectures on the subject and continued his teaching during the following year. The importance of these lectures cannot be exaggerated: their study is essential to an understanding of the meaning and purpose of the Anthroposophical Movement. In the whole body of teaching that was given out, the two lectures which are now reprinted in a new translation, under the title of The True Nature of the Second Coming, form an indispensable part. Many salient points appear, and explanations are made of the connections between past, present and future.
Rudolf Steiner's interpretation of that apocalyptic event described in the New Testament as the coming of the Son of Man “in the clouds with great power and glory” demands for its apprehension knowledge of his teaching on the evolution of man's consciousness, particularly on the development of the ego-consciousness in relation to the Christ Impulse. The incarnation of the Christ took place in an epoch when the soul-faculties of men were best adapted to receive Him manifest in the flesh. But now new faculties of perception are awakening, and men will become capable of receiving Him in a different way. From the third decade of this century onwards, Rudolf Steiner said, the Christ would be visible in etheric form to those possessing these new faculties. At first He will be seen by a few, but during the next three thousand years by greater and yet greater numbers. In a lecture given at Basle on I st October, 1911, Dr. Steiner spoke of the fact that in the future the presence of Christ would be felt amongst those who were gathered together waiting in expectation to receive Him. And for those who are alone, he said, “many a one will experience, when sitting silent in his room, his heart sad and oppressed, not knowing which way to turn, that the etheric Christ will appear and will speak comforting words to him. The Christ will become a living Comforter to men!”
To attempt to master and to expound the content of this revelation given by Rudolf Steiner becomes the particular task of those who count themselves among his followers. He believed that the Christian evangel would develop further and further in time to come, bringing ever new gifts and revelations to the souls of men in their own evolutionary progress from one incarnation to another. And, speaking two years before his death, he said: “Anthroposophy would wish its destiny to be one with the destiny of Christianity.”
When he gave his lecture-cycle on the Gospel of St. Matthew he described in detail the preparation that took place for the coming of Christ in a physical body, with an account of the special mission of Jeshu ben Pandira; in 1911, in the first of two lectures entitled Jeshu ben Pandira, he gave the explicit message that it is in order to prepare humanity for the Second Coming of Christ that Spiritual Science exists. “Everyone,” he said, “who works at the task of Spiritual Science shares in making this preparation.”