A Confusing Confirmation
May 17, 2021
Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom (Matthew 16:28).
When I was a child I was confused over this verse. Like many of the Christians in the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11), I had thought that Jesus had already come and we missed it! If the coming of Jesus Christ in His Kingdom would be seen by those standing in front of Him, then what are we doing here? Let’s take this verse a bite at a time.
First, Jesus said that before they die, some of the disciples would see Him coming in His kingdom. However, all 12 of the disciples are dead, and it’s been 2,000+ years since these words were spoken and Jesus still has not returned. So, what gives?
Second, Jesus did not, nor could He have lied about this event, nor could He have been mistaken regarding His 2nd coming. So, it is obvious He was not saying that some of the disciples would not physically die before His 2nd coming. So, what did He mean?
Third, the word ‘kingdom’ can mean a number of things. It can mean the period of a king’s reign (dominion). It can mean the domain over which a king rules (empire). It can be a figure of speech in which the name of one object/concept is used for another related object/concept (the ‘crown’ is a metonym for ‘royalty’; a ‘kingdom’ is a metonym for ‘royal majesty’, etc.).
Jesus said to the disciples, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. What He meant by that was there would be some of the disciples who would be alive when His royal majesty (divine glory) would be seen physically. Did that happen, and if so, when did that happen?
The first instance when the glory of the Lord was seen was by 3 of the disciples at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8) when He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light (v. 2). The second instance was when Jesus was resurrected and appeared to them multiple times prior to His ascension into glory.
“It is not uncommon for Old Testament prophecies to combine a prediction of a far distant event with a prediction of one in the near future, with the earlier event prefiguring the latter. The fulfillment of the near prophecy served to verify the reliability of the distant one” (John MacArthur). That is the case here - Jesus predicted His second coming in glory and verified that by giving the disciples a glimpse of that in His transfiguration and resurrection appearances.
“Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You have promised that time when You would return to rule over Your Kingdom on earth. Thank You that the promise was verified by Your transfiguration and the resurrection appearances to Your disciples. It give me great confidence and assurance that Your words remain true. May Your name be praised forever, Amen.”