But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:27
Jesus has been talking to His disciples asking them who the people said He was and also who they thought He was. Then He challenges them to take up their cross and follow Him and ends with today’s verse. At first I was going to include it with last time’s verses, Luke 23-26. That way I would not have to attack this verse head on. This verse has caused many, including the disciples, issues. But I just could not do that. So here goes.
It seems from reading this verse that at least one of the disciples will not die until God’s kingdom is established here on earth. That is one reason many in the early church believed Jesus’ second coming would be in their lifetimes. We are still waiting for the second coming of Jesus, Jehovah’s Witness beliefs notwithstanding. So, does that mean one of them is still walking around? I do not know of anyone who believes that is true. So, was Jesus wrong? Of course not.
Whenever we come across a verse such as today’s where the meaning seems hard to fathom or seems to be in error we need to look at the rest of God’s Word to see if we can make the verse clear. So let’s look at the three other Gospel accounts to see if we can make sense of today’s verse. The corresponding verse in Matthew is “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”” (Matthew 16:28 ESV). Not a lot of help as it is essentially the same as in Luke. Mark also does not help us as that verse is “And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”” (Mark 9:1 ESV). Not looking good is it?
However when we turn to the Gospel of John we find something a little different. John writes “When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”” (John 21:21-23 ESV). Just enough difference that it seems what Jesus was saying is that if He wills it one of the disciples, John, would not die until Jesus returns in all His glory. So why is John the only one who words it just this way?
One though I have had is that John indeed did not die until he saw the Kingdom of God. It is not that John is still alive patiently waiting on Jesus’ return but that Jesus showed John what was to come. And John wrote down all he saw, we know this account as the Book of Revelation. But wait you may argue, that is still yet to happen so shouldn’t John still be living? Yes, except for one important thing, to God the return has already happened. What John saw may be the future for us but for God it is now. God is outside of time and space. He sees all things from the past to the future as one event. The best way I can express this is when I am watching a movie for the first time. The ending may be two hours in my future but that ending has already happened to the director. In fact for an old movie that ending may have happened before I was born. We tend to want to view God as in time rather than the creator of time.
It turns out we do not need to choose which writer is correct, they all are correct. One of the disciples did live to see the glory of Jesus’ second coming. That is the beauty of God’s message to us, the end has already been written. The good guys win. Evil is defeated and those who chose to place their faith in Jesus will be rewarded with eternal life in God’s presence.
Have a blessed day,