Feasting with God #4
Prepare a Feast for the Coming King
15And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
Last week we read about the institution of the Lord’s Supper, in which we are given the forgiveness of sins. In Luke’s Gospel today we see another portion of that institution, when Jesus speaks with his disciples in what must have been a very sad tone. He knows that this is the last time he will eat the Passover with his friends, and the last time he will drink wine with them, “until the kingdom of God comes.”
The day before Jesus died, he and his disciples were celebrating the Jewish festival of the Passover, which was a remembrance of the time in Egypt when God sent the angel of death to kill all the firstborn in that country, but those who spread the blood of a lamb according to God’s command on the doorposts were spared, and the angel “passed over” their houses (Ex. 12:1-51). Now it would become connected to the fulfillment of the Passover, when the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, would cause eternal death to pass over all who believe in him.
But there is yet more. This meal was to be a sort of good-bye party for Jesus. His disciples were all gathered around, and although they refused to acknowledge it, they had heard Jesus tell them over and over that he was going to die very soon. As with all good-bye parties, the loved ones gathered around are saddened at the separation to come, but look longingly and hopefully towards that time when they can be reunited.
This is what Jesus meant when he said, “From now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” He was telling his disciples what to look for, what to wait for – to wait for his return. And the Church has waited and waited for two thousand years.
We still wait. We do not wait with despair, but we wait because we hope, and because we know that Christ will do as he promised: he will return. The anxiousness is almost too much to bear, so that we hope for him to come now, immediately, post-haste so that we can see him and be in joy and glory with him! But we must be patient, for he will come in his appointed time. In this patience, we prepare.
Rather than sit idly throughout these ages, we have things to do. Jesus asked his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). We have the task of telling others about him. We have the task of worshiping together, of reading his Word, so that we can be strengthened and ready when he comes. But we have also been given a gift to help us prepare. This is the gift of that same Supper. We eat this feast in the Church together as a preparation for the coming of the King. As we partake of it now, we eat with the saints who have already gone before us into heaven, and we remember Jesus’ words that he will come again. Eating this Supper, we look back at what Jesus has done to save us, but we also look ever forward at when he will come back. It strengthens us and feeds us on our journey through life until we reach heaven, and when Christ comes, we all will have another, wondrous feast, a feast of glory, a feast fit for a king.
O Jesus, come in glory now, fulfill our expectation. We hold our faith which you endow, through joy or tribulation. We eat this very feast you gave, with your own blood that us did save, and praise you for salvation. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.