Matthew 16:28, Jesus said; “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of man (Messiah) coming in his kingdom.” The term “Son of man” in Ezekiel 34:2 emphasized Ezekiel’s relationship to the rest of the human race. Elsewhere the term was used in a messianic sense (Daniel 7:13) and was adopted by our Lord as an alternative to the title “MESSIAH”.
Matthew 16:28 is one of the very difficult verses that even bible scholars are scrambling to interpret. In the book of commentaries, there are two interpretations but I won’t waste my time discussing it, rather, I’ll offer what I understand what the Lord Jesus meant by logical reasons.
If we talk about a kingdom, then there should be the king’s subjects or people under his authority. When Jesus said to Pilate; “My kingdom is not of this world,” (John 18:36) it means that it is a spiritual kingdom. The Lord is sitting on the throne on every believer’s heart. And every Christian should obey His command to live holy and godly lives. (1 Peter 1:14—16), As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written; “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Let me explain first, the first gospel in the New Testament book was not written until 50 years later. There was no compilation of the book yet. Letters was tediously written by hand. Travel and communication at that time was very slow. So how did the believers in Christ witness to the whole world effectively that the unbelievers themselves testified that the Christians have turned the world (meaning, the Roman Empire World) upside down? Acts 17:6—7, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another KING—JESUS.”
The Christians then were proclaiming that Jesus is their King that turns the Roman World upside down. Even though there was no New Testament written Word, but they were endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit. The Word of Jesus was passed on by mouth. They have memorized it by heart and they were all living godly lives that can be seen by all.
If you read all the letters of the apostles especially Paul’s letters, you will notice that there were problems in local churches but they were strongly rebuked and corrected. Over all, the Christians were living the spiritual kingdom lives with the power of the Holy Spirit and it has been seen by those who have not tasted death at that time. “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.”
Acts 1:8, Jesus said; “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” To be a witness is not just to tell but to demonstrate. But of course with the power of the Holy Spirit God will enable us to live godly lives with His Word stored in our hearts.
In this generation Christians are more blessed because we have the Bible to read and study by ourselves. In those days there was no New Testament Bible. There were no theological seminaries. No Bible school. But by memorizing by heart the Word of the King Jesus, living by His Word, they have changed their lives, living godly in the Kingdom of God here on earth. We should always remember that for a Christian to live a godly life does not make us to think we are holier than others. We are only saved by grace but as Paul wrote in Romans 6:1—2, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
An effective witness for the Lord is a changed life. But a changed life will not come unless there is real repentance. David wrote in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
In this generation people are attracted to join the church because of smooth, savory teachings with all attractive programs to attract people. All these hoopla are nonsense. They just become religious. They attend bible studies and seminars but there is no change in life because all these routines are just the Old Testaments’ sacrificial burnt offerings. What the Lord wants is real repentance from a broken spirit and a contrite heart.
David by nature was a good fellow and had a heart for God. God anointed him king of Israel but there came a time when he entertained fleshly thoughts in his heart and had committed adultery which he admitted and confessed it to God. He suffered unbearable consequences. Psalm 51:10—13, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.’’ (Psalm 51:16—17) “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
The message of God to sinful humanity does not change. Forgiveness is available, but it must be preceded by repentance. God has never handed out free pardons to persons who go on living in sin. Earnestness to present to gospel, and secure response to its message, must not be allowed to cloud the fact those who accept salvation put themselves under obligation to change their manner of life. To become a Christian is to accept Jesus not only as Savior but also as Lord, submitting to His authority and obeying His commandments. Then and only then can the Church will turn the world upside down seeing God’ people living in the spiritual kingdom of the King Jesus here on earth.
Continue to read: “Seeking the kingdom of God and His Righteousness”