Bible Reading Blog — February 11, 2016

11 Feb

Today’s Readings — Deuteronomy 1-6 & Mark 8:31-9:1

In Mark 9:1, Jesus says “there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

To what does this promise refer? This has been a controversy for many years. Various answers have been given. It may refer to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, it may refer to the crucifixion and resurrection, it may refer to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem as an event which demonstrates the passing of the old order and the coming of the new. Some also assert that Jesus is talking about the end times and that Jesus Himself expected His return to be soon. This last option is doubtful, because even Jesus says elsewhere that He did not know the time of His return. This might make this option seem more likely, but to me it makes it seem less likely, because why would Jesus be speaking with such assurance about His return being within the lifetime of these disciples if only the Father knew the day of His return?

The most obvious option for the kingdom of God coming in power is seen in the very next passage. It could be that the transfiguration, the very next event recorded, is the coming of the kingdom in power of which Jesus is speaking. Interestingly, in Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus’ words we quoted from Mark 9:1 are always followed by an account of the transfiguration. So it seems the general consensus was that Jesus’ words and the transfiguration were linked. Of course, this is not a clear case, because it seems odd that Jesus would speak of some not tasting death before they see the kingdom in power coming in the transfiguration when the transfiguration happens so soon after Jesus speaks the words. Maybe because Jesus just spoke of taking up the cross to His disciples He was connecting these truths but it is not certain. Anyway, Jesus wasn’t mistaken. The kingdom would be seen by some standing there, most likely on the mount of transfiguration.

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