The Berean Expositor
Volume 41 - Page 125 of 246
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of the King (Matt. 12:, 13:), could say after the Transfiguration, "We see not yet all
things put under Him, but we see Jesus . . . . . crowned with glory and honour".
We now turn our attention to the close of Heb. 2: 9, "that He by the grace of God
should taste death for every man". How are we to understand the expression "taste
death"? Is it merely a synonym for death itself? Some say so, but we distrust this
interpretation of so many expressions as synonyms. We feel that there must be a clear
reason why this word is used here, and therefore we turn to the Scriptures for light upon
its meaning.
The word is translated in the A.V. "eat" three times, and "taste" twelve times. We
shall never plumb the profoundest depths of the Scriptures "unto perfection", but we shall
never find them lapsing into the slightest approach to error or slovenly usage of language.
That Homer may nod is proverbial; that the Scriptures are infallible is one of the first
articles of faith. It is also the impression consistently gained by continual searching. We
are not at all surprised therefore in the case of such divinely-arranged words to find that
the first occurrence of the expression "taste of death" takes us back to the close of
Matt. 16:, immediately before the record of the Transfiguration. There is one feature
common to all passages referring to the Transfiguration in the Gospels: immediately
before the reference is the statement concerning losing the soul for Christ's sake. Now
Peter's epistles have as their theme present suffering followed by future glory. This is the
lesson also of Matthew, chapters 16: and 17:
To John 8: 52 we need not refer, for the Lord said "see death" (verse 51) and we
are not certain enough of those children of the devil (verse 44) to follow them here. That
to "taste" does not mean to "drink" (Matt. 27: 34) show and thus in the figurative sense
also, to taste of death need not necessarily mean to die. When the ruler of the feast
"tasted" the water that was made wine, he certainly did not drink the entire amount which
the Saviour had miraculously provided, and when the Lord said "none of those men
which were bidden shall taste of my supper", it is equivalent to the more modern
colloquial phrase, "they shall not have a bit of it". When Peter became hungry and would
have `tasted' he wanted a very little, not a full meal (Acts 10: 10). Again, the phrase in
Acts 20: 11 does not indicate what we call a meal. The curse under which the enemies
of Paul bound themselves was not that they would not eat, but that they would not even
taste food, so great was their enmity. Those who during this present evil age experienced
in any measure the powers of the age to come are said to have "tasted" of the heavenly
gift, and to have "tasted" the good word of God (Heb. 6: 4, 5). They sampled these
things, but it will be true of them, as of the Queen of Sheba, that "the half has not yet
been told".
I Peter 2: 2, 3 is quite in line with the rest. The new-born babes, though feeding on
the milk of the Word, have but "tasted" that the Lord is gracious. As they grow thereby
and feed upon the stronger food, they will realize that blessed truth more. Every passage
we have referred to leads us to draw distinctions between tasting and fully eating.
Coming back to Matt. 16: 28 let us notice how this helps us: