Why did Jesus promise He will not drink of the fruit of the vine?

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By BibleAsk Team


The promise made by Jesus to not drink of the fruit of the vine until He drinks it anew in the Kingdom of God is found in the accounts of the Last Supper. This promise is rich with theological significance, touching on themes of sacrifice, covenant, eschatology, and fellowship.

The Context of the Promise

The Last Supper is the setting for Jesus’ promise. This meal, which Jesus shared with His disciples on the night before His crucifixion, is recorded in the Synoptic Gospels. Here, Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper (Communion) and makes significant statements about His impending sacrifice.

The Last Supper Narrative

The promise is explicitly mentioned in Matthew, Mark, and Luke:

  • Matthew 26:29: “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.”
  • Mark 14:25: “Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
  • Luke 22:18: “For I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

In these passages, Jesus is sharing the Passover meal with His disciples, a meal steeped in historical and theological significance for the Jewish people. The Passover commemorates the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt, and Jesus uses this context to signify a new kind of deliverance.

The Significance of the Fruit of the Vine

To understand Jesus’ promise, we need to consider the significance of the “fruit of the vine” in the context of the Last Supper and broader biblical themes.

Symbol of Joy and Fellowship

The juice of the fruit of the vine is a symbol of joy and fellowship in the Bible. Psalms 104:15 speaks of it as something “that makes glad the heart of man.” By refraining from drinking wine, Jesus indicates a pause in the full expression of communal joy until a future fulfillment.

The Cup of the New Covenant

At the Last Supper, Jesus identifies the cup of the fruit of the vine with His blood and the new covenant. In Matthew 26:27-28, He says: “Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.'”

This act establishes the wine as a symbol of Jesus’ sacrificial death and the new covenant between God and humanity. By promising not to drink of the vine again until the Kingdom of God, Jesus links His sacrifice to a future fulfillment and consummation of this covenant.

Un-Fermented Wine – The Fruit of the Vine

The wine that the disciples drank was un-fermented grape Juice because during the Passover leaven or yeast was forbidden for it was symbol of sin. The Lord instructed in the Old Testament that ”On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread” (Leviticus 23:5-6 (NKJV) also Exodus 12:8).

Both the juice of the fruit of the vine and bread were to be eaten without leaven. Unleavened bread represents Jesus’ body unchanged by the corruption of sin (Mark 14:22) and the cup represents His pure blood, untainted by any trace of sin.

Eschatological Implications

The promise not to drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God highlights the eschatological (end-times) dimension of Jesus’ ministry.

The Coming of the Kingdom

Throughout His ministry, Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God. His promise at the Last Supper points forward to a time when the Kingdom will be fully realized. The phrase “until that day” in Matthew 26:29 and Mark 14:25 signifies an anticipation of future fulfillment.

In Luke 22:16, Jesus similarly speaks about the Passover: “for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” These statements indicate that Jesus saw His death as inaugurating the Kingdom, but its complete manifestation was still future.

The Messianic Banquet

The promise alludes to the prophetic imagery of the Messianic Banquet, a future celebration described in Isaiah 25:6-9: “And in this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees.”

This banquet symbolizes the ultimate victory of God, the end of suffering and death, and the joyous fellowship of God with His people. By abstaining from wine until the Kingdom, Jesus anticipates this future banquet where He will share in the joy of complete redemption with His followers.

Sacrificial Implications

Jesus’ promise also emphasizes the sacrificial nature of His mission.

Focus on the Cross

The Last Supper occurs on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion. His promise not to drink the fruit of the vine again until the Kingdom underscores His singular focus on the imminent sacrifice He is about to make. It is an expression of His dedication to fulfilling His role as the sacrificial Lamb.

John 19:28-30 recounts Jesus’ final moments on the cross: “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!’ … So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” Even in His final moments, Jesus’ acceptance of sour wine signifies the completion of His sacrificial work.

The New Covenant in His Blood

By linking the fruit of the vine to His blood, Jesus frames His death as the foundation of a new covenant. This covenant, prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-34, involves the forgiveness of sins and a new, intimate relationship between God and His people.

Hebrews 9:15-17 explains the necessity of Jesus’ death to inaugurate this covenant: “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

Fellowship and Communion

Jesus’ promise also has profound implications for Christian fellowship and the practice of Communion (the Eucharist).

Anticipation of Future Fellowship

By promising not to drink the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom, Jesus points to a future, perfect fellowship with His followers. This promise fosters hope and anticipation among believers, encouraging them to look forward to the time when they will be united with Christ in the fullness of the Kingdom.

The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper and the partaking of the fruit of the vine, is a practice that commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice and anticipates His return. In 1 Corinthians 11:25-26, Paul recounts Jesus’ words and adds: “In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”

The Lord’s Supper thus serves as a reminder of Jesus’ sacrificial death and a proclamation of the hope of His return and the fulfillment of His promise.

Theological Reflections

The Already and the Not Yet

Jesus’ promise reflects the theological tension between the “already” and the “not yet” of the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection inaugurated the Kingdom, but its full realization awaits His return. This tension is a central theme in Christian eschatology, emphasizing both the present experience of God’s reign and the future hope of its complete fulfillment.

The Nature of the New Covenant

The promise also underscores the transformative nature of the new covenant. Unlike the old covenant, which was based on the the people’s promises to keep God’s moral Law and required continuous sacrifices, the new covenant is based on Jesus’ promise to write these laws on men’s hearts by the power of His one time sacrifice. This covenant promises a renewed relationship with God, characterized by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the assurance of eternal life.

Conclusion

Jesus’ promise not to drink of the fruit of the vine until He drinks it anew in the Kingdom of God is a profound statement rich with theological significance. It points to His imminent sacrifice and the inauguration of the new covenant in His blood. It emphasizes the eschatological hope of the coming Kingdom and the perfect fellowship that believers will enjoy with Christ in the future.

This promise also reinforces the sacrificial focus of Jesus’ mission and His unwavering dedication to fulfilling God’s redemptive plan. For Christians, it serves as a reminder of the hope and anticipation of Christ’s return and the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises. Through the practice of the Lord’s Supper, believers continually commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice and look forward to the day when they will share in the joyous banquet of the Kingdom of God, fully realizing the fellowship and redemption promised by Christ.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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