And every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus as the Christ. - Acts 5:42
Since the Lord led us into awareness of the apostolic call in late 1997 and called us out of 'normal churchianity' He restored to us the breaking of bread, the Table of the Lord, as a "first work" (Rev.2:5) that we should do. One of the founding Scriptures that the Lord gave us as we left institutional, denominational church and began to meet "daily from house to house" (Acts 2:46), was Acts 2:42. From this verse we see that the first church in Jerusalem "continued steadfastly" (Acts 2:42) in four things, or in the "the first works". They were committed to:
• the breaking of bread;
• they were committed to the doctrine of the apostles;
• they were committed to a realistic fellowship - meeting each other's needs;
• and they were committed to prayer.
In light of this clear instruction from the Lord, we have been committed for over 20 years now to living in Christian community and the foundation of that community is the practice of the first works. We encouraged the breaking of bread from house to house, and over the years the Lord has taught us many things about the breaking of bread and its significance in the life of the church and in the life of every believer.
More recently there has been much emphasis on "the cup of the new covenant in My blood" (Lu.22:20; 1Cor.11:25). We have discovered and continue to discover the covenantal nature and reality of the table, through the cup. The cup is the cup of the new covenant! Through the blood of Jesus, we are brought into the covenant. As a result, we are the new covenant people of God.
In the current season in God we have been teaching and preaching on the King, the Kingdom and Discipleship. This was the theme of our September/October apostolic training school [the DVDs of this school are available on You Tube and the CDs are available on Spreaker - you are able to see and hear the whole school, if you so wish]. The Lord released wonderful insights and much fresh understanding of the King [Christ the Messiah], of the Kingdom [the rulership, the government of God] and Discipleship has been seen in the greater dimension of the kingdom of God.
The gospel that John the Baptist, that Jesus, and that the apostles preached was "the gospel of the kingdom of God" (Matt.4:23; Mark 1:14-15).
In Mark 1:14-15 the Scripture says Jesus came "preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel'". Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom of God; the apostles preached that Jesus is the Christ, that is, Jesus is the Anointed King. They did not preach Jesus the Saviour so much, but they did preach Jesus the Christ [Anointed King, Messiah] very much (Acts 5:42).
This is such a powerful proclamation by Jesus and these two statements set the scene for gospel ministry in every generation.
The time is fulfilled! It is not for modern preachers to come up with a theology or an eschatology, saying that this and this has to happen, and God has to do this, that and the other thing to fulfil 'our' expectations concerning the end of the age and the coming of the Lord. The time is fulfilled! Everything has been done. Jesus is sitting on the throne (1Cor.15:25), "far above all principality and power and might and dominion" (Eph.1:21). We are to proclaim what has been fulfilled by Jesus coming as Christ in the earth.
The kingdom of God is at hand! This means that we can reach out and take hold of the kingdom; take hold of His authority and power. This means that we can see His kingdom manifest through the preaching of the gospel of the King and His kingdom. His kingdom is with power (1Cor.4:20). It is time for a complete paradigm shift. We are not preaching a gospel to get many souls into heaven; we are preaching a gospel of the kingdom: "Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3) and "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Jn.3:5). We will never understand the role of the church if we do not have an experiential knowledge of the kingdom.
One of the aspects of the restoration of kingdom preaching and teaching is to consider Luke 22:14-30. In this passage the Lord speaks of the Passover being fulfilled in the kingdom; He speaks of not drinking "of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes" (v.18); He ministered the bread and the cup to the apostles, speaking of the new covenant in His blood. He refers to "the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table" (v.21). Jesus exposes the insecurity and immaturity of His disciples; He teaches them the nature of authority in the kingdom and the calling to serve. He expresses gratitude that the disciples "have continued with Me in My trials" (v.28). Then in verses 29-30 Jesus says three amazing things to the disciples.
• "I will bestow upon you a kingdom"
• "You may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom"
• "Sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel"
Luke 22:14-15 Jesus is with the twelve in the upper room, at the "Last Supper". This is the night that Jesus was going to be betrayed. Jesus fervently desired to eat this Passover with the disciples.
v.16 Jesus said He would not eat of it again until it was fulfilled in the kingdom of God. The Feast of Passover was the most important Feast for the people of Israel [even though Tabernacles may be the greatest Feast]. But the Feast of Passover is what brings us into the fulfillment of all the other Feasts.
Jesus is not only being obedient to keep the Feast, but He is about to change history forever according to the will of God. Jesus said He would no longer eat the Passover until it was fulfilled in the kingdom. Passover was going to be fulfilled in the kingdom. There is a greater fulfilment of Passover than what took place in Egypt. It is no longer relevant to celebrate the deliverance in Egypt. What is relevant now is who Jesus is and how He fulfilled Passover. Our participation of Passover is what gets us into the kingdom. Now Passover is only found in reality in the kingdom of God. We can celebrate the fulfillment of Passover in what Jesus has done, every time we eat and drink at the Table.
There are two cups mentioned in Luke 22. In verse 17 Jesus took a cup and invited the disciples to drink. He was pointing the disciples to the imminent manifestation of the kingdom of God. The second cup is in verse 20 as an integral part of the Table of the Lord.
Luke 22:17-18 Jesus said He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes. There are many still waiting for the kingdom of God to come and in so doing, they miss the reality of the Table and the Cup that Jesus gave us. Many are very negligent of the Table of the Lord because they do not understand the kingdom and the Table of the Lord as a Kingdom table.
Jesus moved the Passover from being a Jewish feast to be a feast in the kingdom. Now we who partake of this table are the people of God. Historically the Jewish people have always known that they are a people, set apart by God through the Scriptures of the Old Testament. The New Covenant people are both Jew and Gentile - those who believe in and receive Jesus the Messiah (Gal.3:28).
The Table of the Lord is both the declaration of the New Covenant (Heb.8:10-13), and the entry into the kingdom. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name" John 1:12. This is all because of the cup of His blood.
On that night the Old Covenant finished, and the New Covenant came into being. Three days later the kingdom manifested in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Jesus the Man was now proven to be the Son of God by the resurrection (Rom.1:4). The Table of the Lord is the celebration of the reality of the New Covenant. It is not a religious service, but an eating and drinking with the Lord Jesus in His Kingdom, the Kingdom of God.
The disciples were full of doubts and insecurities
v.21-23 Jesus recognized the betrayer was in the midst. This caused all the disciples to doubt their own faithfulness and allegiance to Jesus. Then He reaffirmed His predetermined mission.
v.24-27 Immediately the disciples began to argue among themselves "as to which of them should be considered the greatest" (v.24). It is amazing that the human frailty of these well-trained disciples still manifests so readily. Even in the midst of the most serious situation of eating the Passover with Jesus, they can be arguing about their own position.
Jesus makes the most of the situation to teach us an amazing lesson about Lordship and Authority and Servanthood in the Kingdom. There is a totally different system of government in the kingdom of God: the one with authority in the kingdom will be a servant.
Then Jesus asks, "Who is greater?" Obviously the one sitting at the table and being served is the greater, but Jesus said, "I am among you as the One who serves" (v.27).
In verse 28 Jesus acknowledges "That you are those who have continued with Me in My trials". We know from the passage in John 6:66-69 that there was a time of severe testing for the twelve, and many other disciples who had been following Jesus "went back and walked with Him no more". Jesus was not perturbed about a multitude of disciples turning their backs on Him, He was not insecure, but He was interested in the twelve. He said, "Do you also want to go away?" (Jn.6:67). Simon Peter answered on behalf of the twelve saying, "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (Jn.6:68).
In John 6:69 Peter declared on behalf of the twelve what had become their common faith. He said, "We have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Remember this was Peter's confession in Matthew 16:16 based on revelation from heaven (v.17), and on that revelation, Jesus said He would build His church (v.18).
Jesus said in John 6:70 that He had chosen the twelve. It is important to know that you are called and that your calling comes from heaven; that you know that you are chosen by Jesus.
Then Jesus said an amazing thing: "I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me" Luke 22:29. One could think that the disciples were not behaving like men who were ready to receive the kingdom of God, but Jesus sees past our personalities and our doubts and stumbles. He sees the eternal purpose of God, and He said I will bestow upon you a kingdom. This is clearly referring to the kingdom of God and the church of God is meant to receive this kingdom, this government, this rulership, this responsibility, this authority. [See also Luke 12:32 "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom".]
By receiving this kingdom, the disciples are able to eat and drink at the Lord's Table and the Table is in the kingdom. The Table of the Lord has very little to do with church and everything to do with the kingdom. This is a major paradigm shift for the church: to refocus on the Table and receive the words of Jesus that it is His Table and it can only be celebrated with Him in His Kingdom.
As a result of being in the kingdom, having received the kingdom from Jesus by bestowal, the disciples were now to sit on "thrones". Thrones have to do with authority and manifested power. The disciples were to judge "the twelve tribes of Israel" (v.30). At that time the twelve tribes of Israel referred to the people of God.
The disciples were to judge the people of God. The promise is the same for us today; the word of God has not changed. We are to receive a kingdom; we are to eat and drink at the Lord's Table in the kingdom and as a result we will be released into a place of judgement, rightly dividing the word of truth and bringing all of God's people into their place at His Table in His kingdom, ruling and reigning with Him.