Jesus signaled the arrival of the kingdom of God by drinking wine.
Ask Christians about the kingdom of God and you will be surprised how little we know about it. Most believe it will be established in the future, when Christ returns to rule for “a thousand years.” However, the kingdom of God was established on earth nearly two thousand years ago.
As usual, Paul is the principal architect of Christian confusion. He says: “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50); and insists we only inherit the kingdom after we have been “raptured” to heaven and are resurrected from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:35-57).
However, Jesus told his disciples the kingdom would come in their lifetime. He said: “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:28). Therefore, the generation of the apostles must have inherited the kingdom of God (Luke 16:16).
Paul also maintains: “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking” (Romans 14:17); implying that such activities are too mundane for the kingdom. However, Jesus told his disciples there will be eating and drinking in the kingdom (Luke 22:15-18). He said: “I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as my Father bestowed one upon me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom” (Luke 22:29-30).
Kingdom citizens don’t eat meat sacrificed to idols with Paul’s unlawful permission (1 Corinthians 8:8; Revelation 2:14/20). But we feast at the Lord’s Table on choice cuts and well-refined wine (Luke 12:37; Isa 25:6).
Jesus inaugurated his ministry by turning water into wine. The drinking of “new wine,” which he insists must be placed in new bottles, is imperative for all kingdom-seekers (Matthew 9:17). He also declared at his last Passover that he will signal the arrival of the kingdom of God on earth by drinking wine: “I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come” (Luke 22:18).
Significantly, while on the cross, someone offered Jesus a drink. But he rejected it after first tasting it and realising it was wine (Matthew 27:34). However, at the appropriate moment, Jesus himself asked for a drink. A sponge was filled with sour wine and given to him. This time he drank it; said: “It is finished,” and died (John 19:28-30).
Before Calvary, Jesus taught his disciples to pray to God, asking: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). But immediately he drank the wine on the cross, the kingdom of God came on earth. That very instant, Jesus fulfilled the word of God which says: “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35).
In so doing, Jesus became the first man to do the will of God on earth and, thereby, to qualify for resurrection to eternal life (John 6:38-40). Jesus says laying down one’s life for God is a surefire way to safeguard his love (John 10:17-18). Accordingly, the Father gave Jesus all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18).
Before Jesus’ pioneering example, nobody understood that God primarily requires men to lay down their lives for his sake. This will of God was not done on earth and, therefore, God’s kingdom was restricted to heaven. But once Jesus fulfilled this requirement, God’s will was finally done on earth and his kingdom was established.
The Father wants everyone to see Jesus’ example and do likewise; otherwise we cannot inherit eternal life. Jesus says: “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there my servant will be also” (John 12:25-26).
Eating and drinking
In effect, the kingdom which Paul insists is not eating and drinking was proclaimed by drinking wine. Although Paul says flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, Jesus resurrected as flesh and blood. He told his astonished disciples: “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Handle me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39).
He then did something that completely rubbishes Paul’s doctrine. He sat down to eat and drink with the disciples in the new dawn of the kingdom (Luke 24:41-43; John 21:9-13); contrary to Paul’s misconceptions. Furthermore, he makes a solemn promise to all kingdom-seekers: “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him” (Revelation 3:20; Isaiah 55:1-2).