Holy Thursday (also known as Maundy Thursday) is the fifth day of Holy Week. Jesus gathers with his disciples in an “upper room” (a room that would have been a large, second floor hall filled with dining furniture for the occasion) to celebrate the Passover meal. At this meal, Jesus institutes the breaking of the bread (his body), and the passing of the cup (his blood), a sacred action that became the church’s central act of worship for the past few thousand years – the Eucharist (or communion). From here, he and a few disciples go to the Garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives to pray. This is a place that they would have frequented throughout Jesus’ ministry. It is on this night that the “suffering servant” passage of Isaiah 52-53 begins to reveal its fulfillment, as Jesus cries out to the Father for the cup to be taken from him, literally sweats blood in his distress, and receives the kiss of betrayal from a friend.
“And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.’”
Feast on the Last Supper
The Bread and Cup …
…are your invitation to new life.
Can you see through Communion to the future feast to come?
In Luke 22:15-16, Jesus has gathered with his disciples in an upper room to share in the Passover meal. He shares these foreshadowing words that must have startled and unsettled the disciples. “I eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
Passover is a sacred season when the Jews remember their great deliverance from the tyranny of the Egyptian Pharaoh. Painting the blood of a sacrificial spring lamb on the doorposts of their home, the Jews encountered the deliverance of God as the angel of death “passed over” their homes, yet slayed the firstborn of the Egyptians. Pharaoh relented and the Hebrews were set free (Ex. 12:1-30).
Jesus is now aware that what lay before him is nothing less than his self-sacrifice on behalf of the human race.
Just as a lamb in the Passover story meant the freedom from death for the ancient Hebrews, so too his sacrificial death – as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world – would vanquish humanity’s nemesis – Death.
Bread is broken, and Jesus tells them it is his body. Wine is poured, and Jesus tells them it is his blood. He is seeing his via dolorosa, his way of suffering, laid out before him. And yet, he is seeing beyond it as well.
With words that could be spoken now to you and me as much as to the disciples around that table, Jesus makes a promise that is inherent in his words of table blessing. “Until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God” is Jesus’ way of promising a future beyond the cross, beyond the struggles of this life. That promise is ours to be remembered – every time we take the bread and drink the cup.
For Holy Thursday
Lord, I look toward the day when every tear is wiped away, every disease is healed, death is vanquished, and your kingdom is established on the earth. Let me see Your future.
…for Your Easter Reflection.
Are you living with a clear view of where God’s future is leading us? Are you getting beyond what you see, to what you know to be true?
Taken from Rise: An Eight Day Easter Devotional by Vineyard USA (vineyardresources.org)