For nearly two thousand years, mainstream Christians have been awaiting Jesus’ return, but to some small fringe groups they’re way behind the curve. Jesus, they say, is already here. Not in some fluffy, Footprints-style he’s-with-us-in-our-communities-hearts-and-WWJD-bracelets kind of way, but in a real flesh-and-blood human being who walks the earth guiding our lives and trying to get into our pocketbooks and possibly also our pants.
From the very beginning, the Apostles thought that the second coming of Christ, the Parousia, was imminent. When they find Jesus’ tomb empty in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus’ female followers are told that he has gone ahead of them to Galilee. There seems to have been widespread expectation among the first generations of Christians that Jesus would be back any day now.
At various points since then, mainstream Christian denominations have claimed that Jesus has appeared to people—to the original Apostles, to Paul, to Mary Magdalene, to some fellows traveling to Emmaus, you get the picture. In Mormon theology, Jesus is even believed to have appeared to inhabitants of the Americas after his resurrection.