Our sermon text from this morning ends with the promise of Jesus that some standing there would not taste death till they had seen the Son of Man coming in his kingdom (Mt. 16:28). In one sense Jesus is probably talking about the judgment of Jerusalem in 70 AD, when he will reward everyone according to his deeds. But in another sense, Jesus is still teaching about the way the Kingdom works. He has just finished explaining his extreme discipleship program. He says if you want to follow him you must follow him with a cross on your back; the way to save your life is to lose it first. The kingdom of Jesus is all about tasting death. After 70 AD, Christians were still being persecuted, still being betrayed by family members, still being killed for their faith, still getting sick and dying. But Jesus says that this is the way of the kingdom: in order to follow him, you need to have a cross. You need to have splinters in your back. You need to have the taste of death in your mouth in order to live His resurrection life. If you want to have life, if you want to really live, you have to do it by eating and drinking death. This is because Resurrection is always on the other side of death. If you don’t know what death tastes like you haven’t been brought back to life. At this meal, Jesus says to give thanks, to rejoice, in the death of Jesus which is the death of all death, but this means that you need to see all your hardships, all your suffering, all your confusion, all your worries and fears, and all of your burdens in light of this reality. The writer of Hebrews says that “we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Christ has taken up into himself all of the curse of sin, he has tasted death for everyone, and this means that he died for all your hardships, all your suffering, all your death. Not so that you might be magically delivered from all of it right away, but so that you like him might overcome it, that you might learn obedience through suffering, that you might commit yourself to your faithful Father who raises the dead. So come eat, drink and rejoice: you are tasting death, but you are tasting the death of Christ who has already gone before us and he assures us that this is the way to life. If you want to find your life, come here and taste death that you may truly live.
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