TAKE UP YOUR CROSS: FRIDAY, 5TH AUGUST, 2022, WEEK 18, YEAR II.
NAHUM 2:1,3, 3:1-3, 6-7; RESP: DEUTERONOMY 32: MATTHEW 16:24-28
Each time we read this particular Gospel passage, people find the end of it a bit difficult to understand (Matthew 16:28). What is the meaning of the statement of Jesus that “there are some of these standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming with his kingdom”?
Let me quickly address this before I go to the message of today.
We know that the generation of the immediate listeners of Jesus has passed away and Jesus’ second coming hasn’t happened. So was that a mistaken prophecy or a wrong judgement?
No – the problem lies in the interpretation and the understanding of the text. There is also much confusion amongst those who have tried to explain this.
Jesus could not have meant His second coming at the end of time, otherwise, that prophecy would be inaccurate. The understanding lies in the meaning of the coming of His kingdom.
“The coming of the kingdom” here refers to the manifestation of Christ’ glory and power, which were made visible in the coming event of His transfiguration, His Resurrection, Ascension, the Pentecost and in the spread and growth of the Church. Many of Jesus’ listeners witnessed all this.
Mark 9:1 and Luke 9:27 express this more clearly.
“And he said to them, ‘In truth, I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”
This must be understood as seeing the power of the kingdom manifested and I pray that we shall also have our own experience of the manifestation of the power and glory of the kingdom of God.
Having said this, let us go to the message of today.
Jesus expects three things from those who wish to follow Him as the Way to eternal life.
I. Renunciation of self
II. Acceptance of cross
III. Following in His footsteps.
Let’s look at point two – what crosses are we expected to accept as followers of the Lord? I will mention four.
I. Persecution on account of our faith.
This can come in any form – mockery, discrimination, physical abuse, torture, hatred, calumny, and ill-treatment (Matthew 10:22; 24:9).
II. The suffering and trials that God permits in order to train, form, teach, purify and prepare us for heaven (Hebrews 12:6).
These are discomforts that we often do not cause and we cannot change. We either either accept them with grace or carry them with anger and bitterness.
III. Temptations from the devil to discourage us, to make us disobey God and turn our backs against Him (2 Corinthians 4:8).
IV. The sacrifice of sinful pleasure which could become a snare to us and an obstacle to our salvation (Philippians 3:7-8).
When we properly understand the place and necessity of the cross in following Jesus, we shall learn to complain less and be more focused on where the cross is leading us to.
The good news is that the glory waiting for us is incomparably greater than anything we can ever endure in life and just a glimpse of that glory will make us forget all our sufferings and problems in this world (2 Corinthians 4:17).
In the First Reading, the Lord called His people to rejoice again, to celebrate, to forget all that they had been through. One day, we shall forget all we have been through and are going through in this life. We shall experience the glory of the kingdom and we shall experience a joy that is infinitely greater than our sorrows in life, a joy that we can never deserve or earn but which is purchased for us by the Blood of He who redeemed us through His Holy Cross.