“You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:28-30 NASB)
I can only assume that Judas has left by this time. Luke never tells us that. In fact, none of the Gospels, except John, tells us when Judas leaves to get the soldiers. These guys were just squabbling about which one was the greatest, and then Jesus tells them they will judge the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Without the detail about when Judas leaves, it might cause one to wonder if Judas would also be a judge. Probably not.
This statement of Jesus is full of surprise. These are the guys who have stood by Jesus in His trials. Although they’re getting ready to jet later that evening. There is some translation “wiggle room” in verse 29. The ESV has “and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom.” The problem is that “kingdom” is the direct object, but of which verb. It can be paired with Jesus’ granting the disciples, or with the Father granting Jesus. It occurs at the end of the phrase, so its position in the sentence leaves some ambiguity. The Greek texts have no spaces nor punctuation, so that sort of thing is left up to translators. As you can see, they disagree somewhat about whether the disciples get a kingdom or not. An additional issue is that verse 30 begins with a subordinating conjunction denoting purpose (“hinna” clause). So the ambiguity continues with the context supporting either Jesus’ receipt of a kingdom enabling the disciples to eat at His table, or that the receipt of a kingdom by the disciples enables them to also/therefore eat at His table. If your eyes haven’t crossed or you haven’t moved on to another blog, then you’ve survived the technical portion of today’s entry.
I think it makes more sense for the disciples to receive a kingdom because the following comment about them judging the tribes of Israel. If it weren’t for that, I’d go with just the dining experience, but I think there’s more to it because of the role of judge. Having said that, the meal with Jesus also means something. We think of “kingdoms” in a way like an autonomous ruler having total control over the “kingdom”. When I believe Jesus has the cultural understanding of a subordinate kingdom, like the one Herod had under the Roman governor of Judea. I get this from the use of the word “grant” or “appoint” that Jesus (or Luke) uses here. But it also comes from the close relational implication of sharing a “table”. The type of kingdom and the way in which they administer such a kingdom implies a close subordinate role under Jesus.
Now, consider that in less that 30 verses Jesus will be betrayed, alone, and in chains. And Jesus knows this. Here He tells these guys who are about to desert Him that because they have stood by Him in His trials, He will grant/appoint/bestow a kingdom. They are already forgiven for their fearful desertion of their Master. Think that through. Jesus doesn’t wait for them to come back around before telling them about a kingdom waiting for them. He doesn’t wait for them to earn it in any way whatsoever. We think of grace because of Jesus’ death, or His resurrection, or because He intercedes for us from the right hand of the Father to where He ascended. But grace is a fact even in the past because of what Jesus would do in the near future.
How much more so for us? Consider where you may be in your relationship with Jesus. What you see is nothing compared to what Jesus sees. Where we see failure and disaster, Jesus sees princes, princesses, kings, and queens. Where we see impoverished faith, our Master in heaven sees riches beyond imagination, where gold is the cheap stuff we use to pave streets. Redemption is now a reality because of what Jesus has done. We may not feel it, see it, taste it, or even hear it; but we are redeemed right now. Struggle with Jesus. Wrestle with the Almighty! Rage against the rebel within! Obedience and faith are won on the spiritual battlefield, fighting the spiritual forces of darkness in the heavenly realms. We can fight side-by-side, together in the ugliness of war. Together we will then eventually see the light of victory before the throne of Jesus. The point is to continue the struggle. It only looks like we’re losing right now. Eventually a kingdom waits for us (not one of our own necessarily), where we will experience the salvation of the presence of our Savior, Redeemer, and King. To help us see this, Jesus speaks of the end as if it’s already a reality; which it is.
We can’t see it ourselves, but it’s a done deal even so.
What’s your view through your knothole this morning?