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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


When the Kingdom Comes in Power

And he said to them, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.” (Mark 9:1, NIV)

This is one of the most problematic of Jesus’ sayings. What, exactly, did He mean?

The answer is found in how you understand Jesus’ definition of the kingdom of God and how you interpret the word power.

Let’s look at the various ways Bible scholars have sought to understand these words of Jesus.

First, some take this saying as referring to Jesus’ remarks immediately prior in which He talks about the Son of Man coming in the Father’s glory with all the holy angels (8:38). This view certainly fits best the immediate context — but it doesn’t take into account the phrase “some who are standing here will not taste death before ... .” All Jesus’ original disciples died, and Jesus did not return in their lifetime.

Second, some take this saying as referring to His resurrection from the dead. Truly, the kingdom of God came with power when Jesus rose again. However, this view also fails to adequately explain “some who are standing here will not taste death before ... .” To our knowledge, Judas was the only one who died prior to the resurrection; and Jesus seems instead to be inferring that a good number of His followers would die prior to the Kingdom coming with power, with only “some” being left.

Third, some scholars take this saying as referring to the Day of Pentecost when the promise of Acts 1:8 was fulfilled: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” However, the problem with this view is the same as with the second. At the Day of Pentecost, the bulk of Jesus’ disciples (120) were still alive, not “some.”

A fourth view relates this saying of Jesus to the event that immediately follows — the Transfiguration of Jesus when Peter, James and John saw Jesus in His divine glory. In this view Peter, James and John are the “some” who saw Christ in glorious form before they saw death. The problem with this view is that the Transfiguration does not necessarily mean the “kingdom of God come with power.”

Fifth, others take this saying as referring to the explosive growth of the Early Church. By the time the apostolic age is concluded, the gospel of Jesus that is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18) had been carried throughout much of the then-known world (Romans 15:18,19). Some of Jesus’ disciples lived long enough to see the kingdom of God come with power through this worldwide proclamation of the gospel.

In this view, the kingdom of God is not defined as the end-time Kingdom when He rules over all, but the present Kingdom — the rule of God within you (Luke 17:21). It comes in power when you receive Him and your life is transformed.

It is wise not to be dogmatic on how this saying of Jesus is to be interpreted. Before saying the Kingdom comes with power, Jesus talked about laying down His life and His followers laying down theirs. The laying down is not the end of things. The effort of self-denial, of taking up your cross, is not futile or vain because the kingdom of God comes in power both in this age through transformed lives and in the age to come through His eternal rule.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, may Your kingdom come with power in my life today and in those whom my life shall touch.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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