The Glorified King: Matthew 16:28-17:8
““28) Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” 1) Six days later Jesus *took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and *led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2) And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. 3) And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.” Matthew 16-28-17:3
Matthew 16:28 has tripped up many people. They see Jesus saying; “I am going to return before this generation dies off.” It’s now been nearly 2,000 years and Jesus hasn’t returned. I admit, we need to roll up our sleeves and take a deeper look at this passage.
What Jesus said in verse 28 was indeed fulfilled at the beginning of chapter 17. On the Mount of transfiguration, Jesus was transfigured into His Kingdom Glory. For a short period of time, Jesus stepped into His full glory.
In Revelation chapter one, John again “sees” Jesus in this same glory. Revelation 1:17 says that when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet as a dead man.
We are now confronted with a challenge in our thinking. We naturally think of Jesus in terms of His earthly identity as revealed in the four gospels. But for the past 2,000 years, He has been in His glorified state. Jesus stepped permanently into His glorified state right after His ascension.
In Matthew 17:1-3, Peter, James and John “saw” a preview of His glorified state. In Acts 7:54-60 as Stephen was being martyred, he “saw” Jesus in His glory. I could argue according to 2 Corinthians 12:1-6 that Paul “saw” Jesus in His glory. Again, in Revelation 1:12-20 John “saw” Jesus in His glory.
But wait, Matthew 16:28 says “… until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Wasn’t Jesus talking about His second return to set up His Millennium Kingdom as talked about in Revelation 20:1-10? Yes! Let’s dive a bit deeper.
Read what John says in the next verse in Revelation 20; “11) And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.” Let me emphasize again, just in case you missed it, “And I saw…”.
John “saw” Jesus at least four times coming in His full kingdom glory. He saw Him on the Mount of Transfiguration, then he saw again in Revelation 1:12-20; then again he saw in Revelation 19:11-16, and finally, he saw Him in Revelation 20:11-15. The same basic word “see” that Jesus used in Matthew 16:28 is used in the final three references.
Don’t miss the big picture of what Jesus was saying in Matthew 16:28-17:8. Jesus was about to step into His new glorified state. It might be helpful to review the full chain of progressive revelation of the identity of Christ in Matthew 16-17.
Let’s start with Peter answering the question of Jesus in Matthew 16:16 by saying; “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Watch how the text builds on that statement.
Jesus next talked about building His Church and giving His followers the keys to the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 16:18-19) In these verses, He foretold the church age.
Jesus then backs up and foretells immediate coming events in Jerusalem. He said He was going to; “21) …suffer many things…be killed… and be raised up on the third day.” He ends this verse with the resurrection. Then Matthew 16:28 takes it to the next level. He now refers to the glorified Christ coming with His Kingdom. That’s a huge step beyond a resurrection. He now has a kingdom.
Then, in Matthew 17:1-3 Jesus takes Peter, James and John up the mountain and is transfigured before them into His glory. Wow! He is now pictured in His glorified state. Then finally, just to punctuate His true identity, in Mathew 17:5 the Father spoke and said; “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!”
So let’s pull this all together. Are you ready for this? This context is not about the kingdom, it is about the King! Jesus is now the glorified King over His Kingdom. A few eyes saw it back then, but soon many eyes will see Him coming in His Kingdom!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global
The Glorified King: Matthew 16:28-17:8