When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:14-16 NASB)
We’ve reached the beginning of the end in our study of Luke. It’s been well over a year, but we’re headed for the triumphant crescendo of Jesus’ earthly life. He and the disciples are now cloistered away in an upper room, like so many across the city of Jerusalem, celebrating the most holy of Jewish Feasts. This is Jesus’ Last Supper…sort of.
The meal is a Passover meal, shared around the city by every good Jew able to make it to the city from anywhere around the known world. The meal had ritual, elements had meaning and deep significance to the Jews. The Passover commemorates their history, beginning and focusing on the Exodus from Egypt. But Jesus makes a very interesting statement right at the beginning in Luke. He says, “I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And while the timing is His main point (when He’ll eat it next), the marker of the timing should get us thinking.
When is the Passover fulfilled in the kingdom of God? For most Christians, a lack of understanding of the Passover and significance it has for Jesus’ suffering, death, burial, and resurrection makes this a difficult question to answer. I’ve studied it, and have come to the conclusion that even experts aren’t completely sure about the Messianic elements fulfilled in Jesus’ Passion. And that’s partly because we don’t know with certainty what elements from the First Century practice survived past the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Without complete certainty, I still believe that the Passover was only partially fulfilled in Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection. I believe the final element to be fulfilled happens when He returns to finish off this world’s history. Only then, I believe it will be called the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb”. The same basic concept, but the Exodus will be His Bride from the world, completely renewed and perfected in white.
That’s my belief anyway. But as I said we don’t really know with certainty, so it could also be that Jesus’ Passion completely fulfilled the Passover in His resurrection. That would mean that we, as His disciples, can celebrate it with entirely new significance. If the Passover is fulfilled, then we, as His disciples remember our redemption from sin rather than Egypt. The “death” we deserved passed over us and fell on Him because of His blood covering our lives. I can see that too, and I’m not at all opposed to it.
In the economy of our Creator, I can also believe that He intends both rather than one or the other. He recycles like that. And since this passage certainly looks ahead to Jesus’ return (appearing), and yet just as certainly looks at the Passion He is to suffer right then, there is a lot of merit to such a view.
But there is also the fulfillment of the Passover in my daily life with my Master. He has certainly brought me out of a separation from Him into a relationship with Him. “Salvation” can be understood as an Exodus as well. The bitter herbs and joyful wine can all be understood in the paths of life with Him. The story is one of His faithfulness to me, and my willfulness against Him, a struggle of love and repentance. It’s not difficult at all to see a kind of fulfillment of the Passover there. The mingling of sorrow and joy is a very apt description of our walk with Jesus, worthy of a celebratory meal.
This is just the first entry (a) of the Last Passover Meal of Jesus which means there’s more to come. This is my view through this knothole. What do you see of Jesus from yours?