24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone wants to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
25 Because whoever wants to save his soul will destroy it, but whoever destroys his soul on account of me will find it.
26 Because what does a man profit if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? Or what will a man give in return for his soul?
27 Because the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and at that time he will repay each person according to what he has done.
28 Honestly, I am telling you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
tasting death … now or later
Jesus’ final words in this chapter speak of self denial, of taking up one’s cross and using it to destroy one’s soul out of obedience to Christ. But then he gives this strange utterance that appears to be a reassurance that not all of his audience will die before he comes in judgment. There are numerous interpretations of this hard saying, the one having the best scholarly support is that he was referring to the vision in the next chapter, where three of the disciples get a sneak peek at his coming glory on the mountain. I have always held that view.
But now I wonder. What bothers me is that Jesus had been talking about dying as a means of self-denial. He was actually telling them to taste death if that is what it would take for them to follow him. He even said it more emphatically than that – telling them to climb onto their crosses and sacrifice their souls. What if Jesus’ enigmatic statement in verse 28 was not a promise that some would not die? What if Jesus was saying that he regrets that some of his listeners would not obey him, thus they would not taste the self-death, so would be unprepared for his coming? It is – at least – an interpretative option here. The application would be this: it is better to taste death now for a saving Christ, rather than taste it later at the hands of a judging Christ.
LORD, we confess the valuing our own souls and refusing to surrender all to you. We know that your redemption and resurrection is our only chance for eternal life. We believe in your coming. Help us to go all in with you now – even if it means tasting death for you now.