We read here that “when the hour [had] come.” The time had come for the Passover Meal to begin. It was also Christ’s final hour, the 11th hour. This was the time of Christ’s suffering and crucifixion (John 12:27; 13:1). Jesus was well aware of the fact that He would be offered up as the ultimate Passover Lamb in less than 24 hours. Our Lord even knew all about those in the room there with him: Judas, the impostor and “son of perdition,” the one who would betray Him; Peter the one about ready to deny any association with or knowledge of Jesus; and all the disciples who were arguing over who would be the greatest in the kingdom. And yet, at that moment, Christ’s deepest desire was to be with His disciples and institute the celebration of the New Covenant in His blood.
It amazes me that at a time like this that there is no other thought in the forefront of His thinking. I’m also amazed that with friends like these, couldn’t Christ’s time be better spent … somewhere else? The answer is a categorical “no.” If the disciples were to gain anything from the Lord (and if we are to gain anything), it would ONLY be through fellowship and union with Himself. So, Jesus does not remain aloof or distant or calloused. He demonstrates infinite condescension, mercy and compassion to be with those He loved in His hour of passion.
In the intimacy of this meal to which Jesus has invited his disciples, the Lord served and gave of Himself. Jesus offered them the bread because He is the bread of life, the bread that has come down from heaven, and whoever eats of this bread will not be hungry (John 6:32ff). He promised living water and those who drank from this fountain would never thirst again (John 4:10ff). Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). The wine Christ shared represented the blood He was about to spill out on behalf of sinful men and women.
The command was to take, eat and drink. In feasting on Christ, the disciples were given life. In Jesus they found the only way, the only truth, the only life. However, those like Judas Iscariot who would not partake “in Christ” and refused union with the Lamb, there was no life, only judgment. As Jesus had said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:53ff ESV).
Early on in His ministry, as Jesus thundered the awesome Sermon on the Mount, He said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6 ESV). We are all hungry and thirsty for something. What we celebrate this evening and all this weekend is that in our hunger and thirst, we have been satisfied in Christ. In Christ saving us, we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. It is appropriate for us to remember and thank God, again, for the bread of life. There is no other way—no other sacrifice which brings us forgiveness of sins, a right standing before God our Father and entrance into His family. The Son has willingly laid down His life for His own.
How then are we to live in light of having eaten the bread of life and having drunk from the fountain of life? Do we just dine one time at this 5 star restaurant and then we’re good to go? Do we actually hear ourselves saying, “Wow that meal was so filling and delightful; I’m never going to have to eat again? Do I need seconds? Ah, no, I’m good, but thanks anyway.” Is that how it is with Christ and His gospel? Many “Christians” say these exact words by not coming daily into the banqueting hall with Christ. Since when have we become self-sufficient—able to nurture and sustain ourselves? Are we ourselves capable of perpetuating the life-giving nourishment needed to grow up in Christ and bear fruit? No, this is a delusion.
What we will do if we are not vigilant, because we are always hungry and thirsty, is we will sneak in the sludge our flesh and the world offer up as real food. And in our extra trips to the frig and snack cabinet, we will taint and suppress a holy appetite for true milk and meat. We will take the good things of life that the Lord is pleased to give us and transform these objects—relationships, comforts, entertainment, careers, possessions—into smorgasbords for our consumption. At the end of the day, we are back to dissatisfaction and a belly ache.
True union and communion with Christ lead us into a continuous feast that nourishes our souls and trains us to find the old desires to be distasteful and dishonoring to our Lord. As the apostle Peter wrote:
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you. So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 1:13-2:1-3 ESV).
Have you tasted that the Lord is good? Then, let the feast continue.