Did Jesus fail to correctly predict that people standing with Him would “not taste death” until they saw the arrival of the kingdom of God? The answer is, of course, no, He did not fail. There are two reasons why what Jesus said did not fail. First, let’s examine the scriptures under consideration.
- Matthew 16:28, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
- Mark 9:1, “And Jesus was saying to them, ‘Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.’“
- Luke 9:27, “But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
Jesus did not make a mistake. There are two reasons why this is the case. First, it appears that the fulfillment occurred shortly afterward in the Transfiguration. In that event, Jesus shined like the Son. Moses and Elijah appeared (Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36). This is significant since they represented the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). Their presence at Jesus’ glorification showed the truth of Christ’s Kingship in His Kingdom.
The “Kingdom of God” signifies the sovereignty, rule, reign, presence, and forgiveness of God upon His people (Matt. 6:9-10; John 18:36; Mark 15:43; Rev. 11:15). The kingdom of God was inaugurated at Christ’s first coming (Mark 1:15) and is representative of salvation (Mark 9:47; Mark 10:14-15). It contains the preaching of the gospel (Luke 16:16), by which entrance into the Kingdom of God is by being born again (John 3:3) and being righteous (Matt. 5:20). All of this was the case during Christ’s first coming. So, the Transfiguration demonstrated His Kingdom. Let’s take a look at Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration.
Matthew 17:1–8, “Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. 7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” 8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.”
Notice that Matthew says “six days later.” He is tying the prediction (Matt. 16:28; Mark 9:2) to the event by stating how many days it was after Jesus’ prophecy that the Transfiguration occurred. It makes sense to say that Matthew was referring to what was said by Jesus six days earlier.
The second possible answer to this issue is that some of those then present witnessed Jesus’ death and resurrection, which signified the New Covenant (Heb. 8:13; 9:15-16). The New Covenant designated the arrival of the Kingdom of God since Christ is king over His people (Matt. 2:2). This makes sense since Jesus accepted the title of the King of the Jews (Matt. 27:11).