Ecclesiastical translators have tried to create the impression that Jesus is talking about sometime in the future when he will "come again." This has been embellished in different ways throughout their teachings, imagining that Jesus will come riding through the sky on horseback to save all the believers, at some day in the future when the end of the world comes. Many of these sects also contend that the earth will become paradise, and believers will stay here to enjoy life.
So when Jesus says, in Greek, ἕως οὗ ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ ἔλθῃ - they have translated this to be something like, "until the kingdom of God comes."
As if the kingdom of God will be traveling over - sometime in the future, some 2,000 years or more after Jesus said this. (See some of the many sectarian teachers that have erroneously predicted the end of the world and Jesus' "coming again.")
This is not at all what Jesus is discussing here. The word ἔλθῃ indicates "used both of persons arriving and of those returning."
So what is Jesus speaking about? Let's consider carefully that he has sat down to eat at the "last supper." What does the "last supper" mean? It is the last time that Jesus will be eating and drinking anything before his body is persecuted and put to death.
So when he is saying that he won't drink of the fruit of the vine again, he is predicting that this is his last meal where he will be able to have something to drink. They will be arresting him that night and the next day he will be tried and persecuted.
Then Jesus will be leaving his physical body. We discussed this with the previous verse, and with these clear statements in the Bible (NIV version):
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. (Matt. 27:50)
With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)At the moment of death of his body, Jesus also committed his spirit-person to the Supreme Being:
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)Thus we find it clear - if we trust in the Bible - that Jesus left his physical body at the time of death. His spirit - his spirit-person - left his physical body.
But then, as the Scriptures indicate, Jesus appeared to his disciples three days later. As we also discussed with the previous verse, when he appeared to different disciples they did not recognize him. Why not? They traveled with Jesus and knew him well. Why couldn't they immediately recognize him? Because he didn't appear in his physical body. He appeared as angel-like appearance intended for their eyes to see. This is why others did not see him. This is also why Jesus could allow Thomas to put his fingers through the holes. If it were Jesus' physical body, there would be no real holes where you could just put a finger through. They would be fleshy lesions with pus and blood oozing out. Jesus' bloody body was not walking around, after all.
No, he made an angel-like appearance. Angels can appear in whatever form the Supreme Being empowers them to appear in. They can also change appearance - as Jesus also did in order to allow recognition.
The point is that Jesus knew he would leave his physical body at the time of death - after his last supper. Then Jesus would re-appear to his disciples as we will show in the coming chapters of Luke.
Then Jesus would be returning to the spiritual realm - translated here to "the sanctuary of God." Why "sanctuary" instead of "kingdom?"
"Sanctuary" - or "kingdom" in most versions of the New Testament - is translated from the Greek word βασιλεία. However, this word means, according to the lexicon, "not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom."
This indicates the need for clarity regarding the nature of the spiritual realm and the material world. Within the material world, people are under the influence of greed. Self-centeredness prevails. This is why there is so much suffering in this world. Because everyone wants to enjoy - often at the cost of others. This is why we came here and why we wear these temporary physical bodies - to exercise our desires to enjoy in a self-centered manner. With these, we attempt to be the center: We treasure ourselves. We love ourselves (or what we think is our "self" - the temporary physical body).
The spiritual realm is a dimension, but also the consciousness where the Supreme Being is loved and treasured. It is where He is the center. Yes, there is another dimension where we can live as spirit-persons, with our lives centered around the Supreme Being. But one can live a life centered around God anywhere - even within the material world. Therefore, Jesus said at one point (New King James version):
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20-21 NKJV)It is for this reason that a better translation of βασιλεία is "sanctuary" rather than "kingdom." Because the word "kingdom" cannot accommodate a consciousness (within), while the word "sanctuary" can.
Someone who takes shelter or refuge in the Supreme Being has taken sanctuary in God. But we can also say that the spiritual realm is the sanctuary of God - because this is the place where everyone has taken shelter or refuge of God.
This is an important point, because in the material world, most of us take refuge or shelter in the temporary forms and names of this world. But every body dies and our body will die. When it does, we will lose all our money and our house and everything we hold dear in this world - including relatives of this body. So taking refuge or shelter in the things of this world is a like trusting in a hoax.
But we will never lose the refuge or shelter of God. This is permanent. Not only do we live on after the physical body dies, but where we go is determined by our consciousness. If we are attached to this world, we will remain in this hellish physical world and take on another physical body.
But if we take shelter in God - if we take refuge in God during our physical lives, and honor and treasure Him while we are here and try to live our lives in ways that please Him (which also means loving others and caring for others) - we will return to the spiritual realm after this body dies. Then we will return to our unique loving relationship with our Best Friend, the Supreme Being.
This is what Jesus was discussing with his disciples. He knew he was going to return to the spiritual realm after his body died. And he knew he would be tasting the nectar of his loving relationship with God once he returned.
This is the meaning of being at the "right side" or "right hand" of God when Jesus said:
“You have said this – nonetheless I say to you that afterward you will see the Servant of Humanity sitting at the right side of the Mighty One – appearing within the spiritual realm.” (Matt. 26:64 DT)Or if you prefer an ecclesiastical translation of another verse, in NIV:
After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. (Mark 16:19)These and other verses indicate that indeed, Jesus left his physical body at the time of death and after re-appearing to his disciples, returned to the spiritual realm to resume his intimate relationship with the Supreme Being.
This is the meaning of "right hand." To be at someone's "right hand" means to be not only close to them, but as their subordinate. Today, this understanding is still used when someone is called "their right-hand man." This is understood to be someone who is close to an important person, and even represents them in various matters. A "right-hand man" (or person) is thus often considered the spokesperson or representative of the important person.
This is Jesus' position. He is God's representative, but he also enjoys an intimate relationship with the Supreme Being. Jesus did not die on the cross. His body may have died, but his spirit-person lives on. Today he is still enjoying his loving relationship with God in the spiritual realm.
And we can still reach out to Jesus to help us with our own loving relationship with God. Just as he was able to appear before his disciples after the death of his physical body, he can still guide us where ever we may be.
He can still help guide us home - back to the spiritual realm - where we can return to our loving service relationship with the Supreme Being - our Best Friend and Soul Mate. This is why Jesus' most important teaching was:
‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ” (Luke 10:27)