I wonder a little bit about the comment Jesus makes at the beginning of this passage. Is He saying "some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God" in reference to the following events? Is he referring to seeing Him rise from the dead? Is He referring to the perception changing experience of receiving the Holy Spirit?
I think that the Kingdom of God is not even close to what we think it is like. I often have to remind myself that God is so very much bigger than I could ever even imagine. These three disciples got one tiny glimpse of what the Kingdom will look like. They watched as Jesus prayed on a mountain, off kinda by Himself, like the gospels describe Him doing. These disciples were probably already used to this practice...and, if the tales of the garden of Gethsemane are a glimpse of the usual occurrences among these men used to physical labour, not sitting and waiting...sitting and praying...sitting and dozing.
When I worked night shifts, I was often surprised by the stamina and alertness that kept me awake and working when there was work to do. Occasionally, there were nights when very few patients would come in (often that would be when it was raining...snow storms usually meant that all the children of the city would be on their way!) and just sitting and waiting would leave me nodding off at the desk...trying so hard to keep my eyes open...just like these disciples, watching their beloved teacher pray.
How bright did Jesus' face get before the disciples were nudging each other awake, rubbing their eyes, wondering if they were dreaming? How many pinches did it take before they realized they were fully awake and Jesus had two other companions, shining almost as brightly as He?? How much squinting did it take for them to recognize that Jesus was chatting with Moses and Elijah?? How they would have known who these men were, I am unsure, but apparently they knew them.
I love the way that God sends these two men to encourage Jesus as He prepares for the dark struggle of the coming days. The NLT translates verse 31 this way: "And they were speaking of how he was about to fulfill God's plan by dying in Jerusalem." How many hours had Jesus spent talking with these men, discussing the salvation of creation? How much of Scripture had they picked apart together enjoying the cleverness of God, weaving the same story of His love throughout generations...a story drawing each generation closer and closer to the moment when the Kingdom of God is no longer confined to the boundaries of Heaven, but is poured out on those who recognize Jesus for who He is.
And "a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”
The voice of God, the Father, Jesus' Father, telling these three petrified disciples...telling Jesus that God, His Father is proud of Him. Beautiful. Holy perfection....A Father loving on His Son...loving enough to let Him make a difficult choice...loving Him enough to let go...and save the world through death. A kingdom unlike anyone was expecting.
Monday's scripture focus: Monday, July 29th: Luke 9:37-42