Sometimes we make fiddly little distinctions about scriptural details; we make a habit of taking the bread before the fruit of the vine at the Lord’s Supper because that’s the way Jesus did it–except in Luke’s Gospel. The order means a lot less than the heart behind the actions. But sometimes, the order of things does matter. In taking that last Passover with the disciples, Jesus said this:

And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is being poured out for many. Truly I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine again, until that day when I drink it, new, in the kingdom of God.”
Mark 14:24-25

Clearly Jesus was pointing to a future event here. What is important was how far in the future he was looking. Some times, we talk about this as a far future event, when we all meet with Jesus at the renewal of all things. Looking to Luke’s Gospel again, we examine how the Gospel writers look at the that future Kingdom.

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, this is the one who will save it. For what good does it do a person if he gains the whole world, but loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and the holy angels. But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:23-27

Now, if the kingdom of God is a reference to a yet unfulfilled moment in which God returns to establish a throne over a new order of creation, as described in Revelation, we have some very old disciples in the world somewhere! On the other hand, if the kingdom of God is interpreted as “the reign of God over the Church” then it has already begun and it is the state in which we currently live.

See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns us from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let’s show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 12:25-29

We no longer look forward to a mere addition of a better kingdom in an imperfect world as Jesus’ contemporaries did, but are already subjects of a perfect King who will one day remake the world for His kingdom which He is now perfecting on His own behalf.

We are now, once and forever, part of God’s kingdom. Praise be to our King for his Grace-filled reign.

Ethan Kirl

Originally Published April 12, 2021