Luke

Luke 9:27 Messiah’s Coming.

After the feeding of the five thousand (vv. 10-17), we have Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ (vv. 18-20), Jesus own prediction of His death and resurrection (vv. 21-22), and Jesus’ teaching concerning true discipleship and the final judgment (vv. 23-26). This is what precedes what follows. The immediate context of verse 27 is 26, where Jesus spoke of the Glory-Presence and the angelic hosts on judgment day. This is where Luke’s ‘but’ comes in. “But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.” (v. 27) So there will be a final judgment which will take place in the Glory-Presence of God’s council, but there were some standing there with Jesus who would not die until they saw the kingdom of God.

One can rule out the second coming, since Jesus said that there were some standing there who would see the kingdom coming. Matthew’s account helps to shed light on this passage. In Matthew’s account, which comes much later in his gospel, Jesus predicts His death and resurrection before and after the transfiguration (Cf. 16:21-23; 17:22-23). In Mathew’s account we also find Jesus instructing the apostles not to speak of the vision of the transfiguration until He is risen from the dead (17:9). This would seem to suggest that something after the resurrection was what Jesus had in mind.The transfiguration, to occur in about a week, can hardly be argued as the kingdom coming. Jesus does not refer to some standing there seeing the presence of God, but rather the kingdom. A kingdom implies a rule and a people.

So the kingdom of God coming is something that will come after His resurrection but would also include some who were standing there with Him. At this point the disciples are getting something of a picture of what Jesus was speaking of, and to this end Peter remarks that the scribes had taught that Elijah must come first (v. 10). To this Jesus replied that in reality Elijah had come, in the person of John the Baptist, and just as he had to suffer, even so the Son of man must also suffer (vv. 11-13). So the kingdom coming has as its preparation the coming of Elijah and the suffering of the Son of man. We also know that for the scribes and the people of that generation, they understood the coming of God’s kingdom to ultimately mean victory over the kingdoms of the world.

So the kingdom will come after the death and resurrection of Jesus, but would include some standing there. What is also clear from this context is that the coming of the kingdom of God is more specifically the coming of Messiah’s kingdom. Other suggestions of this “coming” are the resurrection itself, but Jesus seems to indicate that it would come after this. Other suggestions are the ascension, Pentecost, the spread of the gospel, and the destruction of Jerusalem. However, we also know that Jesus came in fulfillment of all that the law and the prophets had predicted. In fact, this is no doubt the main point of the transfiguration, that the apostles were able to witness Jesus in the Glory-Presence with the two key representatives of the law and the prophets-Moses and Elijah.

When one thinks of the title ‘Son of man’ and the eschatological picture Jesus draws, the one place anyone acquainted with the title and subject at hand would go to would be Daniel, and in particular 7:13-14. Here Daniel makes clear that the giving of “dominion and glory and a kingdom” happens when the Messiah ascends to the Father. Immediately upon this giving of “dominion and glory and a kingdom” to the Son of man, the kingdom then comes, as “all peoples, nations, and languages” serve Him. In effect, the kingdom is inaugurated with the ascension but the “coming” to earth is seen in “all peoples, nations, and languages” serving Him. This clearly is what began to take place among those who were standing there with Him. It was to some of these that the great commission was given (Mt. 28:18-20).

It is likely that Jesus wanted the delay in the apostles sharing this truth until His resurrection, so that those who would hear would understand that His was a kingdom that would come via the gospel-something which would entail His sufferings, death, and resurrection. The book of Acts is in reality an account of the coming of the kingdom. As Luke wrote to Theophilus, his gospel account concerned what Jesus “began both to do and teach, until the day He was taken up,” showing that for Luke the ascension was the point of transition (Acts 1:1-2). It was during the forty days between His resurrection and His ascension that He spoke to His disciples “of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3) He in effect was telling them some of what they should expect.

It is clear that the disciples were still waiting for the kingdom, and Jesus agreed. So again, neither the transfiguration or the resurrection were the “coming.” So the disciples, who knew the coming was close enough for some standing with them, but after His resurrection, were asking for an exact time. However, Jesus made clear that the exact time was something only the Father knew, but that there were things they would see as signs of its coming, as it were. These things would include the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower them to be His witnesses to preach the gospel of the kingdom to all nations, starting at Jerusalem (Acts 1:4-8). “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9) Peter connects the inauguration of Messiah’s kingdom with Jesus’ ascension, as a prediction finding fulfillment (Acts 2:34-35).

Jesus could not have been clearer as to when He would receive the kingdom and what would be the signs of its “coming.” This would fulfill what Daniel had predicted. The nations would serve the Messiah when they received the gospel through repentance and faith. The many spoken languages of Acts 2 was just one example of this “coming,” even as Daniel had predicted. The fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple and the old covenant sacrificial system, would be another sign that His kingdom had come, but it would not be the inauguration, just as the other signs had to follow the ascension, and the giving of the kingdom from the Father. This “coming” Matthew made clear would take place in that generation (Mt. 24:34), which Luke made clear was the fall of Jerusalem, that would be “trampled by Gentiles.” (21:24)

The fall of Jerusalem would specifically be the “days of vengeance, that all things that were written may be fulfilled.” (Lk. 21:22) The transition from the old covenant administration to the new that took place with that generation, was another sign of the coming of Messiah’s kingdom, which was inaugurated with His ascension and the bestowal of the Father. This transition included the “days of vengeance” against those who refused Jesus as Messiah, and made a covenant of works out of the old covenant administration of grace, a transition that the law and the prophets had predicted would come. It is a serious error by many to see in the word ‘coming’ as only ever referring to the Second Coming. The conclusion of the gospels show us the inauguration of Messiah’s kingdom with His ascension, and the book of Acts its “coming.”

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