“I tell you the truth, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom.” (also found in Mk.9:1 and Lk.9:27)
Jesus had just refused the request for a sign by the Pharisees and Sadducees, declaring the only sign they would be given would be the sign of Jonah (which many have attested to be the resurrection three days after Jesus’ own crucifixion). The Lord then warned the disciples of the corrupt teachings of these groups which propagated salvation by one’s own works or merits.
The Savior then asked His disciples who they thought He was. It was Peter that answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (v.16) Jesus then pronounced a blessing on His statement, declaring that such faith would be the rock upon which His Kingdom is built: the bedrock of faith or trust in Him.
Then Jesus informs the disciples of His impending death, to which Peter gave great protest. Jesus had just blessed and commended Peter for His faith, only to now compare him with satan – for protesting against God’s plan and purpose in Jesus’ death!
The eternal truth here is really found in the declaration Jesus made after correcting Peter. Jesus said the gates of hell would not be able to withstand the advance of God’s Kingdom on earth. He reinforced this eternal truth by promising his disciples that they would see His Kingdom explode into life – which they did at the event of Pentecost. They then witnessed the Kingdom grow exponentially as they shared the good news of redemption in Christ’s blood.
So, you see, the eternal truth Jesus targets is the strength by which Christianity will advance. This should give us hope for today, when we see Christianity being marginalized in our own land, Christians being persecuted across the world, and followers of Christ giving their lives in devotion to Him. We should also be reminded, however, that the advances of Christianity through the centuries have always been preceded by great bloodshed. Jesus taught that His followers would take up their own cross and follow Him. Each disciple of Christ resolves that one’s life is only significant in Him and may be called on to give one’s own life in sacrifice to His Kingdom’s purposes.
Perhaps it is at that point of personal sacrifice that one may see The Son of Man coming in His Kingdom, with His beloved follower by His side. Actually, Jesus may have been referring to His transfiguration which would happen within a week from the moment he made the statement (read Matthew 17). He may also have been referring to His ascension. In either case, we will be eternally secure that the gates of hell cannot prevail upon the forward advance of God’s righteous purposes. Onward, Christian soldiers, bearing the sword of the Spirit to rescue souls from the bondage of sin!
Have a blessed day…