The kingdom of God is something like a flower beginning as a bud, and then fully unfolding. It arrived when Jesus came. It unfolds with great glimpses of what it is like through the growth of God’s people into His likeness, revealing more of what God’s rule is like, until the full bloom arrives with the return of Jesus Christ.
Some describe the kingdom with the phrase, “Already but not yet” in an effort to say that it is here, but the full extent of it has not been revealed. This explains some of the confusion over these verses describing what is often called the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ.
And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. (Mark 9:1–3)
Jesus was ‘transfigured’ or changed in appearance. This amazing sight heralded the next chapter in the story of God’s purposes for humanity. The story began with creation, then the marring of sin. As the effects of sin unfolded, so also did the everlasting love of God. As human rebellion increased, He would have been justified to wipe us out and start anew with a fresh batch, but He did not. He promised a Savior in Eden and when Jesus came, humanity’s story obviously was His story. He surrendered His life to take the punishment we deserve for sin. His death on Calvary seemed to be the misguided hatred of humanity, but was all along part of God’s plan. Sinners would have our needed salvation and Jesus Christ would be glorified.
The chapter of the story where He came to earth to die did not end with a cliff hanger. Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven with the promise that He would return. His kingdom had begun and it would be revealed more and more, growing in extant until that glorious day. In the meantime, Jesus gave His disciples a vision of what it would be like; He was transfigured from the one who had grown up before them like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground. Until then, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2) But now He shone with the incredible glory of God the Son.
We have times where we glimpse the kingdom with greater clarity, when we see Jesus with such glowing power that we fall down in worship. We call these occasions “mountain top experiences” yet like Peter who watched this mountain top event, we stammer and think only of ourselves and how we want to stay there.
Chambers says we are not built for the mountains. These experiences are for inspiration only — because we are built for the valley, the ordinary stuff of life. I do not agree. While I’ve wanted to stay on the mountain for selfish reasons, I also have been translated into that kingdom — and it is there where I belong.
Jesus brought me to Himself that I might love Him and spend eternity with Him. This life is not all there is, and those glimpses of the kingdom show me a tiny bit of what is to come. By them, my longing for His return and for a full view of eternity is increased. When I pray, “Thy kingdom come . . . .” I pray with greater intensity for I know that when it comes, it will be like that mountain top only much greater.
Chambers says these high experiences are meant to change our character, but we cannot calculate the use of them, only that “they are meant for something in God’s purpose.” Of course they are; they are scenes from the kingdom and they deepen my longing for His full revelation of that glorious day when His kingdom prevails and everything else fades into oblivion. Knowing the story, even the end of the story gives me an incredible assurance that makes all the difference to life here in this valley.