In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
‘Verily, I say unto you, that there be some that stand here, which shall not taste of death till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power’.
These words are from today’s Gospel. They are addressed to us, but what do they mean? What does it mean, ‘to taste of death’? What is it, ‘to see the kingdom of God’?
To taste of death means to suffer from all that entered into the world when death entered into the world. For when Adam and Eve fell, not only did death enter, but also hard work, the pain of childbirth, anguish, depression, stress, worry, disease, old age. And all these things taste of death. Every time that we undergo them, we suffer a part of death, we have a foretaste of death. How then are we to overcome them? How can we avoid ‘the taste of death’?
The answer to this is that death can only be overcome by returning to Eden. For in Adam and Eve’s fall, we have all fallen. We have all fallen through Adam and Eve and have all tasted of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, of which they tasted. Today’s service tells us that we can be restored to the state of mankind before the Fall only by tasting of the Fruit of the New Tree of the New Adam in the New Adam.
The New Adam is Christ, the New Tree is the Cross, Its Fruit is the Resurrection and the New Eden is the Church, the Resurrected Body of Christ. And we taste of the Fruit of the Resurrection in literally tasting of the Body of the Risen Christ in communion. And this precisely is the meaning of the words in today’s Gospel that it is possible ‘to see the kingdom of God come with power’. In other words, if we face up to life’s difficulties with the Cross of Christ, we shall not taste of death, those difficulties in the light of the resurrecting power of the Cross will no longer hold for us the bitter taste of death.
And this is the whole difference between the Church which accepts the Cross and the world which rejects the Cross. The world sees all human problems with anguish, for the world is locked in to pessimism, it sees no way out of its difficulties, for it does not have an eternal perspective, the perspective of the Cross. On the other hand the Church sees all the difficulties which we naturally come up against in life as challenges, opportunities to combat evil, temporary difficulties. However long those difficulties may last, at the end, the worst thing that can happen to us is that we shall die. For the Christian, however, to die is to be with Christ and holds no sting, for Christ has overcome death. In the light of the Cross and Its fruit, the Resurrection, death holds no fear for us. The taste of death becomes the taste of life. The Cross and the Resurrection bring life more abundantly. In the light of the Cross and the Resurrection we see the Kingdom, where there is no sickness, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but life everlasting.
In the perspective of the Cross and the Resurrection, the perspective of the kingdom of God, of which we have a foretaste even now, all human life with all its problems is but a single passing moment in eternity. And if we look at our lives from this Christian perspective, then indeed, we do not taste of death, for we have already to some small extent seen the kingdom of God.
Before Thy Cross we bow down, O Master, and Thy Holy Resurrection we glorify!