If you try to live you will die. If want to live you must die. Some will not die.
I'm trying to make some sense of passages related to the kingdom, since it was a major theme for Jesus.
Matt 16:24-28 (HCSB)
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it. What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will reward each according to what he has done. I assure you: There are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
It can be easy to get hung up on this one. Is Jesus saying that some people standing there with him 2000 years ago would not die before Jesus' 2nd coming? That Jesus was going to come back and take believers to live with Him in heaven, within a timeline of that generation?
Some have concluded this statement did not come true.
But when we look at the rest of this passage there are some other aspects that don't really make sense at first glance either.
There is the idea that if we want to live we must follow Jesus' by taking up our cross. But in those days taking up a cross did not usually increase your lifespan. If we want to live we must deny our life? Now this doesn't make sense. But we tend to accept this hard teaching when we understand that our self centered (sinful) self must die if we want Christ's life to live in us.
Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but if you lose your life you will find it? Another upside down teaching. On the surface it seems backwards. But we can accept it when we understand that if we hold tightly to our life and try to be in control, we will not find the life Christ has in store for us.
Does this help us understand the last part of this passage? Some of the people listening will see and experience the reign and rule of God in their lives and in the world around them. They will follow Jesus and take up their cross. As a result they will not taste death but find life.
I admit this is a tough passage to understand. I am not sure that I have it figured out. There are likely other ways to make sense of it.
I'd love to hear your thoughts.