In our study through the Gospel of Matthew we have started to see a transition in Jesus’ conversation with His disciples to openly include His approaching expected death.
Matthew makes this comment in the 16th chapter, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 16:21, NIV).
What I find most encouraging is that at the same time Jesus begins to reference His nearing sacrifice on Calvary’s cross, He also references His return to earth to redeem us.
In Matthew 16:27 Jesus states that “the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done” (NIV). Then immediately He says, “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:28, NIV).
This past Sunday at CrossHope Chapel, we saw that Jesus was referring to the transfiguration event on the mountain with Himself, Moses, and Elijah as the symbolic illustration of His crowning act to redeem us at His return. The Savior’s work of Calvary is ultimately realized at His return to earth when we are are safely in His forever possession.
We went through the entire 17th chapter of Matthew last Sunday, but the account of the transfiguration, found in Matthew 17:1-13, was of particular encouragement because it pointed to our Savior’s soon return.
Moses’ presence represented those who have died and will be raised from their graves when Jesus returns. Elijah’s presence represented those who will be alive and translated when Jesus returns.
The transfiguration scene that Peter, James, and John witnessed on the mountain top was truly the figurative of “the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:28, NIV).
There is no doubt that Moses and Elijah were encouraging Jesus in His mission and walk toward Calvary, and Jesus likely derived a great deal of encouragement from their presence. Jesus must have been reminded that His approaching death at Calvary was not just an act for a select few, but for all believers from time past who lie in their graves to those who will be alive when He returns to earth in His glory.
The transfiguration story reminds us of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 where the Apostle Paul speaks to the very account represented by the Matthew 17:1-13, which states “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, NIV).
Paul makes specific mention that on that day, when the Savior returns, both the dead in Christ and the living believers will be caught up to be with the Lord forever, then he adds, “Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18, NIV).
The Kingdom of God mentioned in Matthew 16:28 will be made up on that day of the resurrected dead who have died in Christ and the those living their lives following the Savior.
Last Sunday we explored Matthew 17:1-13 and the chapter in greater detail than I’m sharing here, but I do want you all to join in the encouragement we gleaned of the blessed hope. Our Savior’s return is the climax of His salvation for us and we ought to find it encouraging that it is near.
This coming Sunday is July 4th and we will have a simple communion time and shorten service, but we will get back into our study of the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday, July 11, 2021.