Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Keys of the Kingdom 12

posted by xscot mcknight

While “kingdom” is found twice in Mark 13:8 — “kingdom will rise against kingdom” — and neither of those is about Jesus’ kingdom, the usage here is part and parcel of what the word “kingdom” means because they are what “kingdom” has to mean: namely, kingdom refers to a society with a king, king’s will, king’s people, and some kind of land boundary. And so when Jesus refers to “kingdom of God” that meaning carries over to some degree. But our concern today is with Mark’s 19th reference, found in Mark 14:25. In context:
22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ?Take it; this is my body.? 23 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 ?This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,? he said to them. 25 ?I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.? 26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives..
1. Here clearly kingdom is a state of affairs or a set of conditions that is yet future to the last supper: “I will not drink again … until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”
2. The apostle Paul expounds this expression in 1 Corinthians 11:26 with these words: “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” That is, for Paul the “drink anew in the kingdom” refers to the coming of the Lord. Whether Paul had a “Near” Expectation for such a coming or a “Far” Expectation is not really at issue for understanding Jesus — what matters is that Jesus’ expectation for the coming kingdom was very early connected to the expectation for his coming.
3. That future kingdom can be “symboled” with the image of a Great Banquet. You know probably the many times Jesus “symboled” or “imaged” the future kingdom as a banquet. I discuss that image in my book, A New Vision for Israel.
4. The future kingdom is the resumption of former fellowship.
5. All Lord’s supper occasions are anticipations of the future Banquet.
6. The kingdom here is future — a future set of conditions in which God’s will is established for God’s society — and participation in the Lord’s supper is a present expression of faith in that kingdom and a present participation in that kingdom.
This last point, to be honest, could be drawn out into all kinds of points … if Lord’s supper anticipates kingdom, what does that tell us about kingdom? It’s a good question; I shall imagine today many of you chatting about this over coffee or with friends somewhere.

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posted January 22, 2008 at 12:16 am

or over jameson and ginger ale at a billiards hall… where I had a wonderfully deep conversation with my daugther and ‘hung out’ with a large group of her unchurched friends.

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posted January 22, 2008 at 1:09 am

Scot, this brings up a question for me, as someone who is sympathetic to a strong emphasis on 70 AD and the fall of Jerusalem in the eschatology of the Synoptic gospels–doesn’t this passage and the reference to the coming of the kingdom clearly mean second coming? If so, doesn’t its appearance in Luke 22:16,18 mean that the same expression one chapter earlier in Luke 21:31 refer to the same thing (the end, second coming, etc.) and not to the destruction of Jerusalem? If so, it seems to me the Olivet Discourse must also be referring to the parousia and not be limited only to the temple being destroyed by the Romans. Any thoughts?

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posted January 22, 2008 at 1:17 am

I understand this points a future great banquet, but is there not also a more immediate fulfilment. If Jesus is present when we share in he Lord’s supper and we are part of the community of the King, then is Jesus not drinking with us now?

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posted January 22, 2008 at 1:20 am

That is an interesting distinction…the Lord’s supper anticipating the kingdom. I’m thinking hard, but I’ve never heard that in church. This is something to chew on…thanks Scot.

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posted January 22, 2008 at 3:29 am

I love your connection of this verse in Mark with the Pauline text in Corinthians. I hadn’t heard that. In his commentary on 1 Corinthians, Richard B. Hays notes that for all we talk about the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper and the real presence of Christ, the words ‘until he comes’ draws out a ‘real absence’. This would seem to deepen the ‘future-ness’ and heighten the anticipation of the coming kingdom Christ points to in the Markan passage and may even give us an idea of the longing in Jesus’ voice as he says those words.

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posted January 22, 2008 at 8:42 am

Is the emphasis here on “will” implying future kingdom or is it on “I” as a foreshadow of the passion? Because of context I don’t see that the phrasing implies a future kingdom. It certainly implies a future reunion with his followers, but a future which may have come to pass a few days, weeks, or months later. It also implies a time of alienation and distance for Jesus – consistent with atonement theology.
And I don’t see the link between the Pauline expectation of the return of Jesus (near or far) with “future kingdom.” This seems somewhat tenuous.

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Scot McKnight

posted January 22, 2008 at 8:47 am

“until that day” implies futurity to kingdom.
Yes, the interval implies non-table fellowship until that time.
The reason I bring up the Pauline expression is to say Paul interpreted the kingdom’s future with the Lord’s coming — and I did not say “Second Coming”.

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posted January 22, 2008 at 9:17 am

So we have this statement: “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.” There is clearly a future implied – but why is future assigned to the kingdom of God, not simply to Jesus (emphasis on “I”) and Jesus? entrance into the kingdom of God?
This series reflects on what references to kingdom tell us about kingdom – and I don’t see how this passage implies a “not yet” kingdom. Is there an implication that the coming events will inaugurate the kingdom of God? If so why?
And reflecting on the future – will the penguins return some day?

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Bob Brague

posted January 22, 2008 at 9:38 am

My thoughts were along the lines of Ron McK’s. Since we (believers in Jesus) are the body of Christ, is He not drinking when we have our communion services? And of course we are also looking forward to His second, bodily, coming.

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Scot McKnight

posted January 22, 2008 at 9:41 am

I see what you are saying:
It could mean that the kingdom is present; Jesus will interrupt his fellowship with them; at some future date he will eat again with them in the (already present and continuing until that day) kingdom.
Well, that is possible but the “until that day” clause throws what follows into the contingent (future). It is not necessary, but it seems more probable, that the kingdom also is in that contingent (future).
One value for Paul then: Paul understood that kingdom as future to Jesus’ own statement and that is why he nearly equated time of future kingdom with the Lord’s coming. (You probably know that I think there is a very good chance Paul both believed in an eschatological promise on the horizon but did not know that many specifics; and I think the best way to see that Lord’s coming in 1 Cor 11 as connected somehow to 70AD, but I’m still working on the eschatological texts in the NT.)

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Mark Eb.

posted January 22, 2008 at 4:18 pm

Could the future aspect be when the kingdom is consummated? It seems that at least some respect for Mark there is a presentness of the kingdom at this time in the story.
I have also always taken this passage really to be more about the immenient death of Jesus and that kingdom reference was more to assure the reader of physical, literal nature of Jesus’ death and resurrection rather than a statement about the kingdom.
In Christ,
Mark Eb.

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Mark Eb.

posted January 22, 2008 at 4:57 pm

I went back through the previous posts and saw that all the passages in Mark on the kingdom have a general future orientation with the present focus in Mark somewhat tenuous. I began wondering why? Especially when other gospel writers like Luke (see 11:20 for one example) talk about the kingdom already arrived. Could be more about the context of the writer? (Usually Rome) What would be the implications about a future kingdom for this audience?
I guess in the back of mind I have the series on Colossians.
A specific question for you, Scot, judging by your comments thus far, I am guessing that you would place the apocalyptic description of Chapter 13 as being fulfilled in 70 AD. Would this be correct? (sorry haven’t read a New Vision for Israel yet in case this answers this question).
In Christ,
Mark Eb.

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Scot McKnight

posted January 22, 2008 at 5:34 pm

Mark Eb,
Luke’s Gospel emphasizes futurity the most. We’ll get into this sort of question later.

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Jim Martin

posted January 22, 2008 at 8:56 pm

I like this series! (In part because my understanding and grasp of the biblical view of kingdom is underdeveloped.) Anyway this has been very helpful to read each day.

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