Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 16’

Why aren’t the disciples allowed to tell that Jesus is the Messiah?

January 28, 2010

Reference: Matthew 16:20

Question:

Why aren’t the disciples allowed to tell that Jesus is the Messiah?

Answer:

In the verses preceding Jesus’ command to the disciples that they should not tell anyone that he is the Messiah, we see two very good reasons why they shouldn’t.  In short, even if the disciples (namely Peter) are correct in their belief that Jesus is the messiah, that does not necessarily mean that they have any understanding of what that really means.  Following Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus points to the fact that Peter did not come to this conclusion on his own (Matt 16:17).  Rather, it was from God that Peter understood this.  Without the Holy Spirit it would be impossible for the disciples to proclaim the truth about Jesus.

Thus, Jesus is basically saying, “hold off for now” but it’s only a few chapters later that Jesus is saying, “go tell the whole world”.  In chapter 16 however, they’re still not ready.  They still don’t have the full story about the Messiah, i.e. Jesus’ death and resurrection, and they still don’t have the Holy Spirit to sustain them in spreading that message.  Peter proves this only a couple verses later when he rebukes Jesus saying that he would never be put to death or raised to life (Matt. 16:21-22).  Unlike Peter and the disciples, we do have the whole story, and we do have the gift of the holy spirit, so to us Jesus does not say “don’t tell,” to us he says “tell everybody!” (Matthew 28:19-20).

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What did Jesus mean when he said “many here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom?”

January 27, 2010

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.”

Question:

What is this talking about? Is Jesus talking about his resurrection or about the 2nd coming?

Answer:

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 destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem 70 AD.

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.”