“For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (verses 27-28)
What does it mean to “see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom”? I think of Jesus’ further prediction that all the nations of the earth “will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30), which ties in directly with his statement here in verse 27. But that event is clearly still very much in the future and anyone who was alive to hear Jesus make these predictions has long since “tasted death.”
So, what did Jesus mean? Certainly the fullness of Christ’s kingdom awaits that future day. Everyone will see the glory of the King at that point when he comes on the clouds with the angels of heaven. But there was an event which took place immediately following this statement in which three of Jesus’ disciples had an up-close view of his kingdom glory.
That event, of course, was the Transfiguration. Peter, James and John stood on the mountain and saw Jesus utterly transformed in their presence. It was as if the veil was pulled back, allowing a clearer sighting of the reality of his majesty. They experienced his kingdom glory. Years later, Peter would describe it like this:
“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18)
They saw Jesus’ glory. It was a foretaste of that final day when he will come on the clouds of heaven and fully establish his kingdom. Peter, James and John experienced a preview on the mountainside.
But the glory didn’t stop there. Not all the disciples received that awesome view on the Mount of Transfiguration, but later they would experience the wonder of Christ’s body - the church - being established among people on earth. The reality of the glory of Christ’s kingdom was spilling forth among those early believers. Not yet perfectly by any means, but the kingdom was breaking in through the lives of men and women who had chosen to follow Jesus. His light was shining through.
That glory continues. We have the privilege, together with brothers and sisters in Christ, to live his life here and now. We look forward to the fullness of that coming day, praying “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). And in the meantime, we, who are far from perfect, keep praying, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done,” seeking to walk in that unfolding reality, and yearning for him to do his ongoing transformative work within us, changing us from one degree of glory to another. To the praise of his name.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Transform me, transform us, transform your church, from one degree of glory to another. Your kingdom come, Your will be done. Live your life in and through your people. May your glory be made known.
And I look forward eagerly to that coming day when the fullness of your glory will be seen by all. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Reflect: What sightings of Jesus’ glory have you seen recently (in people, churches, answers to prayer, God-moments)? Give thanks. Pause several times during the day to lift your sights and pray: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”