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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Gospels

Chapter 52 - Luke 22:18 - The New Wine of the Kingdom Light & Truth: The Gospels by Bonar, Horatius




The New Wine Of The Kingdom.


"For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come."-Luke 22:18.



     Two feasts had just been celebrated by our Lord and his disciples immediately before these words were spoken. The first was the Passover, and the second was the Supper. Both of these were festivals of rejoicing, the one for Israel after the flesh, the other for the Israel of God, the saved and called ones of every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. It might seem then to the disciples as if this were now at last the beginning of their joy, a joy no more to be overcrowded or withdrawn. It might seem as if this were the final cementing of their happy union, a union no more to be broken up. Notwithstanding all that the Lord had said about his approaching sufferings, they were so "slow of heart to believe," that they might be even at this moment imagining that the time of their tribulation was now about to close and the hour of their triumph to begin. In a prospect such as this they would be disposed greatly to rejoice, not for their own sakes only, but for the sake of a Master whom they loved so well, and over whose unceasing sorrow their loving hearts had often mourned.

     Perhaps it might be then, to counteract some such rising feeling of exultation, that our Lord addressed to them the words of our text: "But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." They were right in their anticipations of the coming kingdom, with all its fullness of joy, but they had altogether miscalculated the time of its approach. They still overlooked the suffering that lay between. They refused to admit the idea of Messiah's shame and death as being the only way to his final glory and honour in the everlasting kingdom. In the verse before us He makes reference to the interval that still lay between Him and the kingdom. He tells them that though there should certainly come a day of festal joy, in which He arid they should rejoice together, yet that day was not immediately at hand. It would assuredly come, but not now. They must prepare for separation, not for union; for sorrow, not for joy; for fasting, not for feasting; for the Bridegroom's absence, not His presence. This was His farewell-feast with His disciples until the day of the eternal meeting in the heavenly Jerusalem. And the words are evidently similar, in reference and import, to those of the apostle: "As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He come."

     It was as if he had said to his disciples, "You may think this the beginning of my joy and your joy, the dawning of a bright day of happy fellowship and union with each other. It is not so. It is the commencement of my deepest agony; it is the last time that we shall thus feast together, till the kingdom shall come. Between that period and this, there is a long and dreary interval to elapse. But after these dark days are over, then shall I sit down with you once more in happy communion, and drink of the fruit of the vine new with you at a better table; not in this poor upper chamber of the earthly Jerusalem, but in one of the many mansions of my Father's house, prepared for us in the New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from God."

     There is a calm melancholy in these words which at once touches and subdues us. Simple as they are, a deep solemnity pervades them. Both He and they were sad; yet it was expedient that He should go away. He would gladly have remained and feasted with them, but he had other work to do, both in earth and heaven. He must go. (I say"; "verily I say";-thus he assures them of the unwelcome truth of his departure. He thus speaks,

     I. Of a time when He did drink of the fruit (or "produce") of the vine. This He had been doing since they had come together, at each feast, each passover, at their accustomed meals, at Simon's house, at Cana in Galilee; partaking with them of their common food, and interchanging fellowship. He had expressed his desire to do so once more: "With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer. He is now doing so,-presenting to us the bread of blessing and the cup of blessing. Thus Jesus delighted in human fellowship. He came not only to give joy to us, but to receive joy from us. He sought intercourse in every way. His delights were with the sons of men. See the whole of the Song of Solomon. Let us give Him the fellowship He seeks; He longs for admittance to our house and board, let us not shut Him out. His promise is, "I will come in and sup with him, and he with me."

     II. Of a time when He would not drink of the fruit of the vine. "After this I shall not taste it again." He puts away from Him that cup, which was expressive of fellowship and joy. The period here alluded to consists of two parts: (1.) the period of his agony onward to his resurrection; (2.) the period from his resurrection to his second coming.

     (1.) His agony and death. He had hardly uttered these words when his enemies seized Him, led by a disciple. There was his betrayal, desertion, denial, scourging, crucifying, the myrrh and gall, and crown of thorns. Truly this was another cup; not the fruit of the vine which maketh glad, but bitterness, and trembling, and death. As if he were now saying, "I have another cup to drink, a cup of gall and wrath,-to drink alone; this cup I must drink that you may not drink it. I must forego your fellowship and love, for the presence of enemies; now is the hour and power of darkness." What deep sadness is here! It is the language of the man of sorrows; of one who delighted in the love of his disciples, and would rather that this cup had passed from Him, but who was yet willing to drink it to the dregs. What deep love is here! It is love which many waters could not quench.

     (2.) From his resurrection to his coming and kingdom. The present interval is one of absence. Not that this is a period of suffering; that is all over. But it is not the period of his full joy. That fullness is still future; his great joy is still postponed. It is not perfected yet; so long as He is absent from His church and His kingdom; so long as His chosen ones are not gathered; so long as the bride is not ready, and the marriage not consummated, and the bodies of his beloved are still lying in the grave. Thus he reserves or postpones his full joy till the great day of resurrection and reunion.

     III. Of a time when He shall drink again of the fruit of the vine with them. That is the day of his coming and kingdom; the day of his crowning is the day of the gladness of his heart (Song 3:2). It is the day of feasting (Isaiah 25:6). It is the day of his royal glory. It is the marriage day; the day of full fellowship with his own. He shall then drink the wine of the kingdom, and drink it new with them; not as in Cana, the guest, but himself the bridegroom; the governor of the feast as well as the provider of the wine.

     Let us mark here,

     (1.) His deep sorrow. He is like one surrounded with friends, yet having within him a grief too deep for utterance.

     (2.) The calm resignation. As if He said, "I leave this happy company to suffer." He shrinks not, murmurs not, though foreseeing the cup he is about to drink. He goes calmly, like a lamb to the slaughter. "The cup which my Father bath given me, shall I not drink it?"

     (3.) The gentle love. It is love that utters these words; love willing to be torn away from the beloved object, if by this he can be of service to it. He pleased not himself. It was our happiness he sought.

     (4) The joy in our fellowship. Interchange of affection is what he seeks. His desire is for nearness and communion.

     (5.) The anticipation of the glory. There is glory to be revealed; glory for Him as for us; when he returns to his kingdom. For this he longs. "I come quickly," he says. Let us answer, Even so come, Lord Jesus! Come to raise thy saints Come to the marriage supper! Come to the crown and throne. Come to the joy and glory.