John the apostle testified, "And the Word was made flesh, and
dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only
begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (John 1:15). When
did the eyes of sinful men behold the glory of the living God? And when
did John see this glory in the darkened face of the suffering servant,
of whom Isaiah prophesied, "For he shall grow up before him as a
tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor
comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we
should desire him." (Isaiah 53:2)?
The three synoptic gospels present a prophecy of our Lord:
"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here,
which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."
"And he said unto them, Verily I say
unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which
shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God
come with power." (Mark 9:1).
"But I tell you of a truth,
there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death,
till they see the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:27).
This prophecy is generally listed by atheists and 'Jesus Seminar' types as an
obvious example of a failed prophecy, because they interpret it as a
promise of the immediate Second Coming.
"Historically it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever
existed at all, and if He did we do not know anything about him, so
that I am not concerned with the historical question, which is a
very difficult one. I am concerned with Christ as He appears in the
Gospels, taking the Gospel narrative as it stands, and there one
does find some things that do not seem to be very wise. For one
thing , he certainly thought that His second coming would occur in
clouds of glory before the death of all the people who were living
at that time. . .Then he says, 'There are some standing here which
shall not taste death till the Son of Man comes into His kingdom;'
and there are a lot of places where it is quite clear that He
believed that His second coming would happen during the lifetime of
many then living." (Bertrand Russell, Why I am not a Christian,
Kindle location 172).
But the gospel authors plainly do not interpret the Lord's imminent promise of His kingdom
glory as a failed prophecy, but as fulfilled,
because they immediately follow up the prophecy with its fulfillment:
"And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John
his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and
was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and
his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto
them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said
unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us
make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and
one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud
overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said,
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And
when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore
afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not
afraid." (Matthew 17:1-7).
"And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.
And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.
And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.
And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.
And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves."
"And it came to pass about an eight days
after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went
up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his
countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and
glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which
were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his
decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and
they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they
were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with
him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said
unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us
make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one
for Elias: not knowing what he said. While he thus spake, there
came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they
entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud,
saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. And when the voice was
past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no
man in those days any of those things which they had seen."