Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!”
Mark 9:1 is one of the more puzzling statements of Jesus. He said that some of those “standing here right now” would not die “before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power.” When I was in graduate school, I was taught that Jesus was referring to what Christians call “the second coming,” his mighty return in power and glory. He expected that his glorious return would happen during the lifetime of his disciples, those who were “standing here right now.” But this didn’t happen, or so I was told. Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet who, like many of his kind, was wrong about the timetable.
You can imagine that I was unsettled when I heard this interpretation of Mark 9:1. Was Jesus really saying what my professor alleged? Could Jesus have been wrong in his expectations for his return?
Putting aside the fact that I believed that Jesus, as the divine Son of God, would not have spoken falsely, I came to understand that my professor’s interpretation of Mark 9:1 missed Jesus’ point. The arrival of the kingdom in power was not equivalent to the second coming of Christ, though that magnificent event would surely be the ultimate demonstration of the power of the kingdom. Rather, Jesus was pointing to a series of events in his earthly life and ministry.
The kingdom of God had indeed come in power in the ministry of Jesus as he healed the sick, cast out demons, multiplied food, and even raised the dead. Yet further demonstrations of God’s power were yet to come. First, there would be the ironic power of the cross, where, in apparent weakness, Jesus defeated the power of sin and death. Then, there would be the power of the resurrection, proof that God’s plan for redemption had been successful. Then, the disciples would experience the power of Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured out on all who believed in Jesus. And this was just the start of God’s powerful work through those who follow Jesus.
To be sure, the full power and glory of God’s kingdom will be experienced in the future when Christ returns. But, in the meanwhile, we are able to experience the power of God’s kingdom each day so that we might serve the Lord in every avenue of our lives.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How have you experienced the power of the kingdom of God? Where do you need more of God’s power today?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for the power of the kingdom of God. Thank you for evidence of your power at work in history, in the church, and in my life. By your grace and wisdom, pour out even more of your power upon me, so that I might serve you more faithfully and effectively.
It will be wonderful, Lord, when you come again, when “the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (Rev. 11:15). I long to experience the fullness of your power. But, in the meanwhile, I am grateful for all you are doing in me and throughout the world.
All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, through whom the kingdom of God has come and is coming! Amen.
Risk and Reward
Early in every working life, a special transition occurs before you know how to avoid mistakes, yet after you’ve made them. Like when you first rode a bike without training wheels. You knew enough to be confident, yet too little to avoid losing skin from your knee. The transition is special because it marks a movement from novice to know-how, from apprenticeship to autonomy. Or, as we might say, from young to young professional.
The High Calling recognizes that everyone—moms, accountants, geologists—need vocational growth, so we share past experiences and tell lessons from the future. But what about the early days when we simply got out there and did it?
In the series, Risk and Reward, we ask, “How did I learn so much in so little time?” Join us and be inspired all over again.
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