”When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” 17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Luke 22.14-18
What Jesus was doing was ushering in God’s Kingdom. He wasn’t just reclining at the table for relaxation! (That was the way they sat during those times, without chairs apparently.) Jesus was preparing for something and was being prepared at the same time. He was in the upper room in Jerusalem, preparing for a moment in which he would declare the reason for his coming to earth. He would reveal to his disciples stunning news about his own body and blood becoming a sacrifice for humanity.
Jesus gives several indications that this will be his last meal. (It’s why we call it the “Last Supper.”) After telling them how eager he is to eat the Passover with them “before I suffer…” — he had to suffer. He mentions this throughout the gospels but no one knows exactly what this means. Who could? He speaks with words often shrouded in mystery and with multiple meanings. The prophets of old spoke of a suffering servant, but could this really be him?
Jesus then says, v.16, “For I tell you, I will not EAT (my emphasis) it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” And v.17, after take the cup and giving thanks, he says in v.18, “For I will tell you I will not DRINK (my emphasis) again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” He would not longer eat or drink after this meal. We know the story but this must have been very confusing for the disciples who placed their hope in Jesus. Where was he going? What wouldn’t he eat any more? What business did he have to fulfill that he would be unable to eat and drink?
Again, in hindsight, this is all very clear. But put yourself in their shoes. The disciples couldn’t see the end results, his suffering, death and especially his resurrection. Jesus was preparing for the end, and the end would only be the beginning for his ministry in this world.
Today we live with this knowledge behind us and the hope for the kingdom in front of us. We read Jesus’ words and believe they have been fulfilled. He has come into his Kingdom, conquered sin and death, defeated the cross, and now resides with his father in heaven. We certainly have reason to celebrate. We also have reason to tell others of this good news.
And although Jesus has completed his mission, he has not fulfilled the narrative. The story won’t be finished until he returns in glory and takes up every believer with himself to Heaven. This will be the fulfillment of the coming of the Kingdom of God.
Are you ready?
“O Lord God, thank you for loving us. Thank you for dying to live, and for living to die. Thank you for your sacrifice of mercy to the world, the service you gave all humankind. Come again, Lord Jesus, take us up with you into the Heavens. Help us complete our own mission on this earth so that we might be made one with you and the Father. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen