@OJMCKEE Great question Depending on your view of eschatology, or how the world will end, there are several different ways to explain this passage. Jesus could be referring to:
1 - Jesus’ transfiguration
2 - Jesus’ resurrection and receiving of His Kingdom
3 - destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the end of the old covenant
4 - the final day of judgment
I find option (3) the most likely. The book of Revelation says that the things it predicts will “soon” take place and Jesus said some of those hearing Him would witness the events. The destruction of the temple in 70 AD marked the end of the Old Covenant - there was no more temple in which to offer sacrifices. If we read the OT, God often talks about His “coming on the clouds” in judgment even when no one literally saw God.
At the same time, all orthodox Christians affirm that Jesus will return one day to judge the living and the dead. So this is not a denial of the day of judgment, but rather a different way of understanding Scripture. I highly recommend you read this book by Sam Storms, even if you do not agree with his perspective once you are finished, just to gain a deeper understanding of different ways of approaching questions of the end times.
Christ grant you wisdom
Jesus’ “Coming on the Clouds”
In my opinion, if we look at other passages like Mark 14, it is clear that Jesus was predicting something that would happen in the lifetime of the individuals with whom he was speaking. Jesus told the priests that they would see Him coming in glory. I think options 1-3 are the most likely.
Mark 14:61-65 - Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven .”
63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that the phrase ‘coming on the clouds’ is not necessarily literally Jesus riding on clouds. In the OT, riding on the clouds was a symbol of God coming in power to judge a nation. So, consider Isaiah 19:1:
Isaiah 19:1 - A prophecy against Egypt:
See, the Lord rides on a swift cloud
and is coming to Egypt.
The idols of Egypt tremble before him,
and the hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear.
That is why some people think that Jesus’ ‘coming on the clouds’ occurred when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD as Jesus predicted by the Romans.
Keep in mind that Jesus’ Kingdom is not an earthly Kingdom - so when Jesus talks about His Kingdom coming it may not be visible.
John 18:36 - Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
@SeanO Thank you for helping to clear this up! I have been reading a lot about Jesus’ second coming because I have been so eagerly awaiting for the day! However, I do need to practice more patience and continue to put my trust in His timing. I’m so glad to be a part of connect so I can learn more and more about scripture in the meantime!
@OJMCKEE Definitely Understanding what the Scriptures say about the end times does indeed require both patience and study. But one thing we do know for certain—He has died, He has risen, and He will come again!