Then Jesus told his disciples, “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
(Matthew 16:27-28 ESV)
One thing God always does is provide good news after He’s given bad news. In the previous passages Jesus has just told His disciples that He was going to be beaten and crucified when He goes to Jerusalem. He then told them that if they wanted to follow Him they, too, must take up their cross (figuratively if not literally). All this certainly caused the disciples quite a bit of uneasiness and discouragement.
So today Jesus gives them some encouragement. Someday Jesus (referring to Himself as the Son of Man) would return (come) in glory. This is Jesus’ first revelation of His second coming.
When Jesus returns He will repay each person according to what he has done. It’s important to note that Jesus is not saying that our deeds lead to salvation. He is saying that our deeds are evidence (or lack of it) of salvation. Many people will have done good things. But if those things were not done in Jesus’ name – for His sake – then those deeds will count for nothing [Matthew 7:21-23, 10:39].
Once someone receives God’s forgiveness and is forgiven, that person receives the Holy Spirit who guides them through the rest of their life. One thing the Holy Spirit does is allow us to do good deeds [Galatians 5:22-23].
Jesus is again claiming to be God. No one but God has the authority to judge everyone’s life. Not to mention that He says He will return with His angels. No mere human being leads a cadre of angels. Only God has a team of angels.
Jesus’ comments here are a warning. Everyone will have to answer to Him as they transition from this life into eternity. And where they spend eternity will be based on what they did to promote Jesus while on this earth.
Jesus’ comment about some standing there who will not die before they see Jesus coming in His kingdom has been the fodder of may a Bible critic. All the disciples died long before Jesus’ second coming, so these critics claim the Bible, therefore, cannot be trusted as the word of God.
But it’s quite possible that Jesus was not referring to His second coming, thousands of years in the future. It is very common for Bible prophecy to speak of both near-term events and longer-term events. Here Jesus could have been referring to the near-term future when the Holy Spirit (the power of God) was poured out on believers.
Another possibility is that Jesus is referring to His transfiguration, which took place six days later, in which He reveals His heavenly glory to three of His closest disciples: Peter, John, and James. We’ll read about that tomorrow.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.