“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.” — Matthew 16:28 (NIV84)
Truth be told, for nearly 3 years, they had seen the Son of Man doing kingdom-of-heaven work. But some were going to be blessed to see Jesus as He is in heaven. This is the last verse of Matthew Chapter 16, and it immediately precedes the transfiguration. Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain and was transfigured before them. These disciples were blessed with a preview of heaven. While Jesus was transforming into His glorified state, two Old Testament saints (Moses and Elijah) came down from heaven and began to speak with the transfigured Jesus. They spoke with Him like they knew Him because they did. While heaven was touching the earth on that mountaintop, this experience for the disciples was topped by the voice of God saying: “This is my Son, Whom I love. With Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” The three disciples were fortunate to see Jesus in the very kingdom He had spent most of His ministry speaking about.
There is much about the kingdom of heaven to be learned from the recording of this event. First, heaven is a real place. The kingdom of heaven is real. Second, there is life after death. Moses’ and Elijah’s presence on the mountain is LIVING proof that God’s people do not die. Third, Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah (Son of Man). He was not only affirmed by the presence of Moses and Elijah, but God’s speaking His Word of affirmation upon Jesus, and His ministry sealed the deal. All this discussion about differing kingdoms, powers, and forces is not just opinion. It is historical fact. Peter, James, and John were so certain about what they saw that they had no problem sharing it with the other disciples at the right time.
What should all this mean to us? Everything! It should provide us the certainty and assurance that our faith is solidly placed in what is real. As Christians, we are not grasping at straws. We are not hoping in a dream. Our faith solidly rests in the certain work of our God to save and redeem us. We may not have ever seen Jesus in His glory like Peter, James, and John. But we have been witness to the power of God’s Kingdom, and the grace it bestows. The new creature in us is birthed not of this world, but of the heavenly kingdom. Today, Jesus resides with Moses, Elijah, Peter, James and John. And someday in the future our names will be added to that list. That is a certainty!