"Some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:7-27 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again. 9 Herod said, “I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see Him.
10 When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done. Taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida. 11 But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing.
12 Now the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place.” 13 But He said to them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.” 14 (For there were about five thousand men.) And He said to His disciples, “Have them sit down to eat in groups of about fifty each.” 15 They did so, and had them all sit down. 16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied; and the broken pieces which they had left over were picked up, twelve baskets full.
18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” 19 They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” 20 And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” 21 But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.”
23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
In today’s text Jesus says: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” Jesus was not unaware of what His fate would be. He was clear in saying that He would be rejected and killed. Jesus though does not speak of the cross or of being crucified. He does though say: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Yesterday, Good Friday, as believers we remembered Christ’s suffering on the cross. There have been many movies that have attempted to depict the crucifixion and the suffering of Christ. As vivid and graphic as some of these portrayals have been, nothing can truly capture the magnitude of the suffering Jesus did endure. Before Jesus ever got to the cross He was flogged, beaten nearly to death. The Romans were experts at inflicting pain. So before Jesus was nailed to the cross, the flesh from His back was had been ripped from His body. Jesus was not the only one ever to be crucified. Others suffered the agonizing death as well. For Jesus though there was an even greater suffering He endured. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. When Jesus was on the cross, Matthew 27:46 says: About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?" Even greater than the tremendous physical pain Jesus endured for our sake, was the emotional pain and the spiritual pain He felt from taking all the sin of man upon Himself, and so for the first time, for the only time in all of eternity, He was separated from the Father.
Philippians 2:3-11 says: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Jesus says: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Taking up our own cross is not suffering the cruelty of crucifixion. Jesus did that for us. Taking up our own cross is not having to know the emotional and spiritual pain of being separated from God because of sin. That too, Jesus did for us. To take up our own cross, Jesus says we must deny self. Jesus denied all that He had. He died equality with God for us. He bore the shame of our sin before the presence of the Father. For that reason, He says: “whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
We are to follow Christ. If indeed we will follow Him, we will see His suffering on our behalf. He suffered so we don’t have to. If we will follow Him, we will see He died, so we don’t have to. John 3:16 says: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Most importantly though, if we will follow Christ, we will see that the grave He was placed in, when He died, is empty. He is not there. Just as Jesus is no longer on the cross, He is no longer dead. He is risen! If we will follow Christ, we too must live lives of resurrection, not lives of suffering and death for sin. We need not bear the shame of our sin, but may we never be ashamed of the one who bore sin and shame for us. Jesus says: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) That’s what it means, that’s what is necessary to follow Christ and not be ashamed of Him, that everywhere we go we would testify of all that He did, not only telling of miracles of healing and deliverance, but also testifying of His greatest work; and His greatest demonstration of love; that because He suffered and died on the cross, neither we nor the world needs to.
Jesus says: “I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” If we will follow Christ, we can be those who see the kingdom of God. We can be those who never taste death. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 says: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”… thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. If we will follow Christ, we will have victory with Him and through Him and we will never be ashamed to testify of Him. We need not suffer for our sin, but rather we must identify with His suffering for us, glorying in the cross.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit. I will follow You. I want to see the kingdom of heaven here on earth. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. I am not ashamed of You, but rather I glory in the cross. May others also see and follow You as I am a witness of Your great love. Amen.