And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” Mark 9:1
I am so grateful that we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my daughter and friends.
We also had a super encouraging baptism of a young Tuskegee student who is dear to me.
But then it was like the bottom dropped out.
My husband had some major problems at work. He had to work from home the rest of Thanksgiving vacation.
And many other challenging situations arose for my loved ones: a broken engagement, constant pain, attempted suicide, late term miscarriage, mental health issues, quitting church, substance abuse, raising grandchildren, marriage in crisis. I myself experienced a couple of episodes of emotional overload that were discouraging.
Today’s verse can help with all of this.
To understand it, we need to realize that Mark 9:1 belongs sequentially at the end of Chapter 8, beginning with the passage where Jesus had told his disciples that he would suffer, die and be raised again. This is followed by Peter rebuking him. Then Jesus gathered his followers and told them all this heavy stuff — that anyone who wanted to follow him would have to deny themselves and take up their cross. That they must lose their lives to save them. That there would be dire consequences for anyone ashamed of him.
But Jesus closed this all out by saying something positive. The kingdom was coming! It’s like he was saying to those who were looking for him to be their king, “I know I’ve told you a lot of hard things, but take heart. You are going to see the kingdom. And it’s going to be awesome!”
I don’t pretend to understand everything about the kingdom. I used to teach people that the kingdom came when 3,000 people were baptized in Acts 2, and that the kingdom is the church.
Now I realize that the kingdom is a lot more.
There’s this mind blowing book called “The Kingdom of God” by Tom Jones and Steve Brown. It says, “In Jesus’s teaching, the kingdom was seen as the now, but was also as something that was not yet here in all its finality.”
The scriptures bear this out. Look at Matthew’s parallel passage to Mark 9:1. Jesus leads into it by saying, “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.” (Matt 16:27) That speaks of a time still to come.
But then Jesus also made statements like, “But if I am casting out demons by the power of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you.” (Luke 11:20) It’s plain that the kingdom was also present at the time Jesus was on earth.
Do you know what is exciting about this? It means our king is reigning, and will reign exponentially more in the future!!! “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'” (Romans 14:11)
It means that we are living in a time of power, because Jesus said that the kingdom would come power. John the Baptist also spoke about this. He said, “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matt 3:11)
It means that we, as citizens of the kingdom, have power. In fact, we have incomparably great power. (Eph 1:19)
We have power because we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
- “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” I Tim 1:7
- “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” John 4:4
- “But if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13
We have power because Christ is interceding for us.
- “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Romans 8:34
- (Jesus said) “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12
But there is one more aspect of this power that I want to mention, which is perhaps most important of all. None of this power would be available if Christ hadn’t died. Through the whole passage we’ve been studying, Jesus was telling his disciples that death was the essential ingredient. No wonder he got in Peter’s face when Peter rebuked him. Jesus was trying to say, “If I don’t die, you won’t have the kingdom. If you don’t die, you won’t be the kingdom.”
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24
Death is the source of power.
That means a lot of things, but what does that mean to us when we are going through major struggles? The first thing I tend to do is start turning the situation over and over in my mind to figure out a solution. Or I start doing things to fix the situation. It doesn’t have to be my personal troubles, I do this to try to help others as well. But it makes me constantly restless and anxious.
But lately I’m realizing that the best thing I can do is to die completely to having any control over matters, and instead to plant prayers, like kernels of wheat, in the soil of God. Only as I give them over to God completely, will his power be able to work them out.
Let’s remember that we’re living in a time when we can see the power of of the kingdom. That fires me up! Let’s pray to see it more. Let’s die more, so it is more available to us.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know . . . his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. Eph 1:18-21