October 27, 2016 • Life for Leaders
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 is one of the more puzzling statements of Jesus. He said that some of those “standing here” would not die “before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” When I was in graduate school, I was taught that Jesus was referring to what Christians call “the second coming,” Christ’s mighty return in power and glory. He expected that his glorious return would happen during the lifetime of his disciples, those who were “standing here” with him. But this didn’t happen, or so I was told. Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet who, like many of his kind, was wrong about the timetable.
You can imagine that I was unsettled when I heard this interpretation of Mark 9:1. Was Jesus really saying what my professor alleged? Could Jesus have been wrong in his expectations for his return?
Putting aside the fact that I believed that Jesus, as the divine Son of God, would not have spoken falsely, I came to understand that my professor’s interpretation of Mark 9:1 missed Jesus’s point. The arrival of the kingdom in power was not equivalent to the second coming of Christ, though that magnificent event would surely be the ultimate demonstration of the power of the kingdom. Rather, Jesus was pointing to a series of events in his earthly life and ministry.
The kingdom of God had indeed come in power in the ministry of Jesus as he healed the sick, cast out demons, multiplied food, and even raised the dead. Yet further demonstrations of God’s power were yet to come. First, there would be the ironic power of the cross, where, in apparent weakness, Jesus defeated the power of sin and death. Then, there would be the power of the resurrection, proof that God’s plan for redemption had been successful. Then, the disciples would experience the power of Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured out over all who believed in Jesus. And this was just the start of God’s powerful work through those who followed Jesus.
To be sure, the full power and glory of God’s kingdom will be experienced in the future when Christ returns. But, in the meanwhile, we are able to experience the power of God’s kingdom each day so that we might serve the Lord in every avenue of our lives. God’s power is available for us in our shops and boardrooms, in our neighborhoods and cities, in our teams and families, in our work and service . . . everywhere.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
How have you experienced the power of the kingdom of God?
Where do you need more of God’s power today?
Lord Jesus, thank you for the power of the kingdom of God. Thank you for evidence of your power at work in history, in the church, and in my life. By your grace and wisdom, pour out even more of your power upon me, so that I might serve you more faithfully and effectively.
It will be wonderful, Lord, when you come again, when “the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.” I long to experience the fullness of your power. But, in the meanwhile, I am grateful for all you are doing in me and throughout the world.
All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, through whom the kingdom of God has come and is coming! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: Experiencing God at Work
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.