Dear Pastor Charles: I was reading my Bible the other day and came across a verse I do not understand. It is found in Matthew 16:28, “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.” Does this mean that some of the disciples did not die? Thank you for your response. Perplexed.
Great question. Thank you for reading your Bible. Actually, this verse is explained in the very next chapter. Matthew 17:1-3, “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.” This “transfiguration” is a picture of Jesus coming into His Kingdom. It is interesting to note that Elijah and Moses were present and talking with Him. Moses represents the Law and Elijah represents the Prophets. This is what we call the Old Testament but Jesus referred to these writings as the Law and the Prophets.
Would you like to know what they were talking about? If you look in Luke 9:30-31 you will find out; “Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.” In other words, they were talking about Jesus’ upcoming death upon the cross. Peter, James and John were seeing Jesus Christ being glorified in preparation for His sacrifice. The Bible tells us in 1 John 3:2, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Matthew 17:2, “His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light.” That brilliant, shining light is the glory of God that each child of God will one day shine and be clothed with. Moses once stood in the presence of God and his face shone with this same light. Remember how he covered his face soon afterward? The ‘glory light’ began to fade away as soon as he left the nearness of God.
The Apostle Peter, who was present on that day, gives us more detail about the significance of the Transfiguration of Christ in 2 Peter 1:16-18, “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 honor 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.” So this “coming” that Peter is referring to is actually a picture in miniature of the coming Kingdom.
No, my perplexed friend, none of the original disciples are still alive on the earth and waiting for Christ’s return. They each passed through the portals of death the same way each of us will one day pass unless the Lord returns first. In that case, if we are a child of God, we will be transfigured as well. Listen to what was revealed by Jesus to the Apostle Paul; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” The “dead” Paul is referring to are those who have passed on who died as a believer in Christ. This time is also referred to in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
May that time come soon!
I sincerely hope that I have given you a satisfactory answer to your question. Keep up the great work and continue to read your Bible for the time is coming, and, I believe, very soon, that the Lord will come back for those of us who are “alive and remain.”
May the Lord bless and keep you as you study His Word that is “able to make you wise.”