“But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
(Matthew 26:29; cf. Mark 14:25)
As we saw last week, while instituting the Lord’s Supper Jesus mentioned a day and a kingdom, as quoted above. This day was specifically the day when “the kingdom of God comes” (Lk. 22:18). We saw how the New Testament teaches that the church is the kingdom of God (Col. 1:13; 1 Thess. 2:12; Rev. 1:4, 6, 9). The Lord’s church began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), a Jewish holy day which always took place on a Sunday (Lev. 23:15-16). Thus, the kingdom of God came on a Sunday. Jesus would not drink of the fruit of the vine of the Lord’s Supper again with His disciples until that day.
Thus, after its institution by Christ the next time the Lord’s Supper would be observed by Christ’s disciples would be on Sunday, the day of Pentecost, the day the kingdom of God came. This fits with Luke’s account of the very first activities of the newly converted 3,000 on that Sunday: “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:41-42). “The breaking of bread” refers to the Lord’s Supper (cf. 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:23-25). Therefore, we see that the apostles directed the Jerusalem church to observe communion on the day the church began, which was the first day of the week. The fact that they were “continually” doing so suggests by definition that it was a fixed habit.
Further evidence of this is found in Luke’s account of the church at Troas (Acts 20:7). As with the Jerusalem church, these Christians gathered together for the purpose to partake of communion (“break bread”) on Sunday (“the first day of the week”), and did so with the apostle Paul’s approval. More evidence that this was a fixed habit of the early church is found in Paul’s directions to both the Galatian churches and the Corinthian church to take up collections every first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:1-2), implying that he knew they had the habit of assembling together every Sunday. Since he taught the same thing at every congregation (1 Cor. 4:17; cf. 16:1), we can be confident that all the early churches gathered together to observe communion on Sundays under his direction. And just as the Jews under the Old Law knew that God’s command to observe the Sabbath applied to every Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11; Num. 15:32-36), we can learn from their example (1 Cor. 10:11) and know that the New Testament teaching concerning communion applies to every Sunday.
Yet consider this also, my friends. Jesus promised His disciples concerning the fruit of the vine, a synecdoche for the Lord’s Supper as a whole, that He would “drink it new WITH YOU in My Father’s kingdom.” Consider the implications of this promise. The Hebrew author, quoting a psalm which contains a Messianic prophecy, wrote to Christians the following about the relationship between Jesus and us: “For both He who sanctifies (Jesus) and those who are sanctified (Christians) are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, ‘I will proclaim Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise” (Heb. 2:11-12; cf. Ps. 22:22). Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters. That is why He says He will sing His Father’s praise…where? “In the midst of the congregation.”
What did He promise His disciples? “I will drink (of the fruit of the vine of communion) new WITH YOU in My Father’s kingdom.” Where is He singing God’s praises? “In the midst of the congregation.” Know this, Christians. As we sing the praises of God, partake of the Lord’s Supper, and worship God in prayer, the listening of the proclamation of His Word, and in our giving, we are not alone.
Jesus Himself is in our midst (cf. Matt. 18:20).
We’ll study more about the Lord’s Supper next week, Lord willing.