The Kingdom Promised
If you have a Bible, I invite you to turn to Luke 22. And if you don’t have a Bible, there should be a Bible under the row of chairs in front of you. If you can grab a Bible, we are going to be in Luke 22, this morning.
For the past couple of months, we have been looking at the Kingdom of God—the sovereign rule of God, through Jesus Christ, which is both a present reality and a future hope.
Today, we are taking time to remember those, from all over the world, who are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ. There are many followers of Jesus in the world who aren’t seeing the present reality of the Kingdom of God—they're in chains, they're being beaten, they're suffering for being a Christian, they're looking around and they're not seeing the fulfillment of the Kingdom.
But what these individuals know and what they are grabbing hold of, in their affliction, is this future hope. They're not seeing it now, but they have hope that it’s coming. Praise God, His Kingdom is coming to this earth!
There is coming a day when the King will return to restore and renew all things. It’s what the Bible builds towards, from Genesis to Revelation. And it’s how we can have hope amidst persecution and affliction. The future hope is not here yet, but it’s coming.
And in the meantime, we watch videos and we hear stories of the many men and women, from all over the world, who are experiencing the limbo of the Kingdom of God. They know that God is sovereign and they trust in His sovereignty, and all the while, they are waiting for the day when God will make all things right.
This morning, we are going to look at the Kingdom promised. We are going to look at how we can have hope when, presently, there might not be much hope.
Maybe you are socially ostracized for being a Christian, or maybe you are experiencing health issues or you have a loved one who is experiencing health issues, or maybe you have questions about where the world is headed, whatever it is, maybe we just need some hope, today.
My prayer for us, this morning, is that we will be encouraged and that we will be reminded of the promise that the Kingdom of God is coming fully, when the King of the Kingdom returns, and that we can stand in this assurance when the world is not “all as it should be.”
So, if you have your Bible opened to Luke 22, we will be spending the majority of our time here, but first, we need to know how we got here. So, if you can keep your finger in Luke 22, we will actually begin by looking at Genesis 3.
So, keep your finger in Luke 22, but turn over to Genesis 3. And we will begin reading in verse 1: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.”
“He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden”?’ 2 And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”’ 4 But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”
“8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ 10 And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’ 11 He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ 12 The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’ 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’”
When we read this passage, we quickly realize why the world is the way it is. All the wrong and all the hurt and all the opposition that we face stems from what takes place in this passage.
What we see here is that God commands His people to live a certain way, but we see them reject that and go their own way. And it’s not like God is asking them to do something harmful, but rather, He is asking them to stay away from that which would harm them.
When I tell my kids to not play on the road, it’s not because I want to ruin their fun, but because there are vehicles that come down our street at high speeds that could do some serious damage to them. I’m protecting my kids.
God is not some cosmic killjoy. When God lays out His Law, He is laying out what the path of life looks like. And He ushers us down this path of life, because God knows what deviating off of the path of life will do to us.
And we see the immediate impact of this, don’t we? Right after the man and the woman eat the fruit of the Tree, of which they were not supposed to eat, they become aware of their nakedness, which wasn’t a problem before, and they try to cover themselves up.
And then, God comes into the Garden, like He always did, and they hide themselves from God, because they saw that they were naked. Why? Because they're ashamed. Sin brings shame into the world.
And God asks the man if He ate from the Tree, of which he was not supposed to eat. And what does the man do? He blames God for bringing this woman to him. And when God asks the woman, she blames the serpent for deceiving her. And we see that sin has brought blame into the world.
And so, we see mankind deciding to go their own way and do their own thing, straying off the path of life that God had laid out for them. And because of this, all the world has been affected. We all now live with the consequences of sin.
And we wonder, “Where is the hope?” How do you go from that to where we are today, with Christianity as the largest religion in the world? How does that happen, with seemingly no hope? And it’s because the story isn’t over.
Look at verse 14: “The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.’”
The hope for the Christian lies in whom God is talking about in verse 15. Who is He who will crush the serpent’s head? Who is He who would be crushed on our behalf? It’s Jesus.
What God is pointing to, is that there would come a day when God would take the form of a man, being born of a woman, who would live the perfect, sinless life that we obviously could not live, and who would go to the cross to die for the penalty of our sin, and who would be raised back to life to conquer death.
All the way back in Genesis 3, we see the promise that was to come in Jesus. Jesus would come and do what we could not. There’s the hope.
The Kingdom of God was clearly seen in Creation. God made everything we see and know to exist, clearly showing that He is Lord of all. And God gave man the privilege to rule alongside Him, to help cultivate the good world that He created.
But man rejected the rule of God, seeking their own rule and wanting to be their own authority. And what does God do? He gives them the promise of the Kingdom—that He would one day come to make things right.
So, with that in our minds, let’s flip back over to Luke 22, beginning in verse 14: “And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!’ 23 And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.”
So, here we have Jesus partaking in the Last Supper with His disciples, before He would go to the cross. The Lord’s Supper is what we partake of, every Sunday morning at 10:00 in our Remembrance Service. We eat a piece of bread and we drink a cup of juice, in remembrance of the broken body and shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And to tie all of this together: We remember the Kingdom promised—how God, all the way back in Genesis 3, promised that the Saviour would come.
And this took many years of God’s people turning away from God and turning back to God. And all the while, we can imagine that the people were holding on to the promise, waiting for the Saviour to come.
And 2 Peter 3:9 reminds us that “the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness.” The Saviour would inevitably come, and He is who we remember when we eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
So, the Lord’s Supper looks back at the promise of the Saviour who would come to crush the head of the serpent. But at the same time, the Lord’s Supper looks forward to the time when the Saviour will return and when the Kingdom of God will be fulfilled.
Jesus says, “For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:26 says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.”
That’s a promise, just like the promise of Genesis 3. It’s not here yet, and it’s going to take a few years, but we have the hope that it’s coming.
And so, we eat of the bread and drink of the cup until the Lord returns. It’s our reminder that God has not left His people without hope, but that we have something firm to stand on when persecution comes our way, or when we receive that negative diagnosis, or when the world looks like it’s in shambles.
Our God is a God on His throne. He’s given us a taste of what the Kingdom looks like, and we've looked at this in the previous sermons in this series, but what we have before us is the promise of a Kingdom that is coming, fully.
But then, look at the response of Jesus’ disciples to this: They have just been given this great hope that the Saviour will come again to bring His Kingdom to earth in all its fullness, and in verse 24, it says that “a dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And here is what Jesus says to them: “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
For Jesus to use the language that He does, saying “my table” and “my kingdom,” would be outrageous, if it weren’t true. For Jesus to say the things He does, would be blasphemous, if He weren’t the King of the Kingdom. The reason Jesus can say what He says, is because of who He is.
And yet, what are the disciples arguing about? They’re arguing over which one of them is the greatest in the Kingdom. They have completely missed the fact that they have the King of the Kingdom, that they are arguing about, in their midst. They missed the point.
For citizens of the Kingdom, it’s not about who is the greatest, because the Kingdom of God is this upside-down Kingdom, where the greatest become the least and the least become the greatest. And what Jesus is saying to them is that even He, as the greatest, models what true greatness looks like.
He’s God in the flesh. There is no greater. And yet, Jesus makes it clear that, to truly be great, you must first be servants.
But here’s our problem: We don’t naturally want to serve; we want to be served. This isn’t an isolated problem, affecting only a few people in the world, this is all of us. We would all rather be served, than serve.
And it’s because we are all affected by what took place in the Garden, in Genesis 3. We don’t want to be the lesser ones, so we shame and we blame to become greater than those around us.
And this shows itself in all sorts of areas of our lives: Marriage—I found out just how selfish I was when I got married. Parenting—I found out that there was even more selfish capabilities in me after I had kids.
Whatever it looks like in each one of our lives, the consequences of what took place in Genesis 3, shows itself over and over again in our lives, where greatness for us is about what I can do to be great.
It’s one of the most appealing things about legalism, because legalism says that I obey the rules to gain God’s favour. So, I try and I try to do what I can to win. But it ultimately leaves us exhausted, because we’re beating ourselves up for not being the greatest, and the reality is that we were never meant to be.
Jesus did for us what we could never do ourselves, so to try and top that is pointless. True greatness is not found in all the ways that we are better than others; true greatness is found in our weakness. When we are weak, Jesus is strong. It’s when we lean into Jesus that we find our strength. Strength is not found inside of me; it’s found in Jesus.
But this does not come naturally to us. It does not come naturally to do what Jesus is modelling for us to do here. But this is, once again, pointing us to the promise to come.
There is coming a day when my natural inclination will not be to make myself great, but to praise the One who is truly great. There is coming a day when my desire for sin will be completely taken away. There is coming a day when mankind will rule with Jesus over Creation, the way we were always intended to.
There is a Kingdom promised—a Kingdom coming—when we will be with Jesus, and our desire to do our own thing and go our own way will be no more.
In Revelation 19, we see this promised Kingdom fulfilled. You don’t have to turn there, but I’m just going to read Revelation 19:6-9, to give us a sense of what it will be like. It says, “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’”
Doesn’t that sound like a glorious scene? I just want to show another video, as it pertains to the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. And I want us to watch this video, in light of the Revelation 19 and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. So, let’s watch the video at this time…
The Kingdom of God is the sovereign rule of God, through Jesus Christ, which is both a present reality and a future hope. In whatever affliction or trial we face, there is hope in the promised Kingdom to come that we can grab hold of.
I’m going to put the 2018 World Watch List on the bulletin board in the foyer, so that we can see which countries in the world experience the most persecution for being a follower of Jesus. And I just ask that we would pray for those countries, because each one of them need our prayer.
They are men and women, just like us, who have believed in Jesus as their Saviour and King. Will we commit to pray for them? What will be our response, this morning, this week, this year, to their plight? Let’s pray…