Luke 9:27 (NIV) I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”
Jesus had come to make the kingdom of God a living reality in the world, and to get the people ready to enter it. John the Baptist prepared the people for Jesus; Jesus prepared the people for the kingdom.
Jesus was Himself the embodiment of the kingdom of God on earth. As long as He was in the world, people could experience the reality of the kingdom at second-hand by watching how He lived, and experiencing all of the wonderful things that He could do. However, the kingdom was still only a second-hand reality to His followers, even His closest disciples.
But very soon, Jesus would turn His steps south to Jerusalem one last time. During this trip, Jesus would take the steps needed to make the kingdom a living reality for everyone. He would die on the cross, taking on Himself all of the suffering, torment, and separation from God that the people deserved for their sins, paying the penalty in full. Then, on the third day, He would rise again as the first fruits of those redeemed through faith in Him, defeating death, and opening the way for all into an eternity in heaven.
Finally, forty days later, He would ascend into heaven to the right hand of God the Father. From there, He would pour out the Holy Spirit on His followers on the day of Pentecost. On that day, the kingdom of God would arrive on earth in power, becoming a reality in the lives of His followers. No longer would the kingdom be embodied in Jesus. From that time forward, it would be embodied in the heart of every believer and, through their lives, manifested throughout the world.
Of course, only eleven of Jesus’ twelve closest disciples would live to see that day. Judas Iscariot would betray Jesus into the hands of the Jewish leaders, and then hang himself out of guilt and despair. He would not experience the kingdom becoming a reality. But the other eleven disciples would experience for themselves what it was like to live in the kingdom of God, and the complete fulfillment of this prophecy of Jesus.
Father, thank You for the reality of Your kingdom down to today. Your kingdom isn’t something that we look back upon as a great, but temporary, event. Nor is it something we have to anticipate in the far-off future. It is still a living reality for all who follow Jesus. Lord, help me to live in the reality of Your kingdom today. Amen.