Reference: 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.”
What is this talking about? Is Jesus talking about his resurrection or about the 2nd coming?
This question calls for me to use my favorite pseudo academic phrase. Here it comes….are you ready?… “scholars have been debating this question for ages.” There I said it, and it actually made me feel a little smarter, though it probably didn’t change the reality of my condition. All that to say, I can tell you what I think, but there are other people who are way smarter than me who have come down on every side of this debate.
Let me cut to the chase, I don’t think that Jesus is talking about his resurrection here, nor do I think he is talking about his 2nd coming. It seems unlikely that Jesus would say to his disciples and the others gathered there that “some” of them would be alive at his resurrection, especially since it only happened about a year or less following this event. Similarly, it is unlikely that Jesus would be talking about the second coming because that hasn’t happened yet, and all the men and women who he was talking to are now dead. Thus, Jesus must have been referring to some other significant event. But what?
The statement is an eschatological one. Thus it has to do with the coming of God’s kingdom, and the end times. But note that Jesus does not say that, “they will see the Son of Man coming INTO his kingdom”, it says “they will see the Son of Man coming IN his kingdom.” That little preposition is important. It means that Jesus’ presence will be here IN his kingdom as it is made manifest here on earth, it does not mean that his kingdom is here and Jesus is coming INTO it.
So what significant event could Jesus be talking about here. Clearly Jesus is referring to something that some of the people listening to Jesus will experience, but others will not. It is toward this that I submit the 3rd interpretive option, the view that Jesus is referring to the distraction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD This was an historically and escheat logically significant event that occurred about 40 years after Jesus spoke these words to the disciples. Thus, many of those who were there would have lived to see the day that Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed. Jesus himself predicted this very event in Matthew 24. This event was significant in that it closed the chapter on Temple worship which was no longer necessary. Jesus had become the temple, and his Holy Spirit had now been given to us, thus the temple was present with us and in the church.
Therefore, when the Temple was destroyed it was a powerful, eschatological, signifier that the kingdom of God was coming into the world, and Jesus is “IN his kingdom.”