Coming of the Son of Man and judgment

Speaking to his disciples, Jesus tells them they will “see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom,” but what does this actually mean? There are a wide array of interpretations worthy of diving into: Transfiguration, Resurrection, Pentecost, birth of the new Church. The language agrees across the Synoptics, so we need to look carefully at this passage.
Matthew 16:27-28, Mark 8:38-9:1, Luke 9:26-27

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One Reply to “Coming of the Son of Man and judgment”

  1. At first glance, I read this scripture and thought I understood its meaning. After reading through the thoughts of many others, I discovered this is a rather significant topic. This simple post will not do justice to the discussion, but here are my thoughts for this morning.

    In the verses just prior to these two, Jesus is telling his disciples of the horrors that must come for his mission to be complete. They truly don’t understand the concept of resurrection (do we really understand this?) and as it seems, they are down, perhaps troubled because of what he is telling them. Jesus can see how these thoughts are overwhelming to them, so he cheers them up by letting them know something amazing,

    Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

    Is Jesus referring to an event that is about to happen…like the next week or next year or a bit later? Here are some thoughts about each of these ideas:

    Transfiguration. This is the goto answer for many scholars since the very next verses in the Synoptic Gospels all discuss the Transfiguration.

    It seems most natural to interpret this promise in Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; and Luke 9:27 as a reference to the transfiguration, which “some” of the disciples would witness only six days later, exactly as Jesus predicted. In each Gospel, the very next passage after this promise from Jesus is the transfiguration, which shows Jesus in all His glory which will be seen again in the Kingdom of God. The contextual links make it very likely that this is the proper interpretation. Cite

    The disconnect is the magnitude of the statement, “will not taste death” seems to imply a much more significant event, something on a grander scale (not to belittle the Transfiguration).

    Resurrection. This seems plausible since we read that Jesus appeared to hundreds of people after his resurrection. The Resurrection of Jesus separates Christians from the rest of the world’s religions, perhaps the seminal event that causes the most controversy. Was this the reference? Maybe, but I tend to agree with those who look even further.

    Pentecost. Certainly the day of Pentecost where we see the Holy Spirit come and fill his disciples could fit the definition of seeing the Glory of Christ enter the world.

    Birth of the new Church. The writers of the Gospels were witnesses to the improbable birth of Christianity. They saw the destruction of the temple, persecution of many, but they also saw many miracles.

    There are different ways to interpret this verse, but I hope this is the most accurate:

    There are some of you who will not taste death. Why? Because they will have eternal life. The words ‘not taste death’ have to do with eternal life. They have to do with those who are regenerate, those who have God’s life. These are the people who will be able to see the kingdom of God. Cite

    On re-reading the verse, as Dr Cheng (above) suggests, this interpretation is the most encouraging. The phrase, “some will not see death before…” suggests that some will see death, real death, that is, will not have eternal life. That’s a truly significant way or reading this verse. This makes good sense because only those who have received Christ will be able to see the kingdom of God, they will not taste death.

    The most significant cross reference in reading through the discussion comes from Hebrews 2:9

    But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

    We “see” the kingdom of God in Christ for he bore death for us.

    It never ceases to amaze me how a few verses can be viewed by scholarly people in so many different ways. I believe Christ tasted death for all who would trust in him as Lord and savior. As a result, I will join many in seeing the kingdom of God.

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