When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before My suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Then He took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.” He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then He broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this to remember Me.” After supper He took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and His people—an agreement confirmed with My blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray Me. For it has been determined that the Son of Man must die. But what sorrow awaits the one who betrays Him.” The disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing.Luke 22:14-23
Notice that Luke begins this segment with an introduction of his own creation. Luke knows the standard opening used by the other synoptic writers. Namely: While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.”
After the matter of the preparation of the room, Mark and Matthew lead straight into the catechism and ritual of the Breaking of Bread with which we are so familiar.
But did you notice what Luke has done? He has prefaced this section with a new element. Not only that, he has seemingly switched the order of the cup and the bread. Has he indeed placed the cup before the bread which seems inferred on an examination of verses 17 – 19. Is that what he is doing or something else happening here? Notice also Luke choses the material he wishes to include carefully. His account is not as full as some other accounts. Certainly nothing like John’s. Luke only reports on a selected few of the events that took place in the upper room.
Did you also note where Luke has taken his version from? He doesn’t follow the authorized version seen in Matthew and Mark, primarily Mark. But Luke has additional elements in his account. Where did he get them from and what is his purpose? Having asked the question I am going to leave you tantalizingly until we discuss it further in the next Gem. For now I would like to look more closely at Luke’s introduction.
- “When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table.
- Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before My suffering begins.
- For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”
Let’s investigate some of the elements of this introduction. Luke doesn’t just simply take the standard intro from the other two – “While they were eating . . . ” Luke’s intro is a rather more lengthy version. Let’s look at it in more detail.
“When the time had come”
This refers to the time when the Passover would be taken. It usually occurred on Nisan 15th, after sunset on the Thursday. The Jewish new day began with the appearance of the first evening star. Jesus would likely have gone to the room that had been prepared late in the afternoon, perhaps in the last hour before the time to begin the Passover meal. Interesting isn’t it that Judas had no warning of where this meal was going to take place. Jesus didn’t tell the disciples the address of where this Passover meal would take place. He only indicated to Peter and to John to follow the man with the water vessel. I suspect this was so that Judas could not find out where this Last Supper was to take place. Jesus knew there was still lots to do and say before His arrest.
“Jesus and the apostles sat at the table”
The word use here is the word [anapipto] which is translated in most translations as sat, to be seated at the table. But literally it means to recline or to lie down. This was a meal taken in a formal setting but the guests reclined on couches in Roman style. There was a pecking order in which guests were seated and those invited positioned themselves in accord with their importance at the meal. You can read the details of this in Gem 1020 which I wrote concerning the account of Jesus’ lunch with the Pharisees in Luke 14.
“I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you”
This is a very Hebraistic construction, literally “with desire I desired”. The sense of this is to lay emphasis on the main verb – to desire. I.e. To earnestly desire, with great longing to desire to do something. This Passover was the last Jesus would experience. There is much debate as to what Jesus was meaning when He said, “For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”
“I won’t eat this meal [again]”
It appears that Jesus stated reason for longing to do this is that He wouldn’t be able to do so again. Jesus statement seems to emphasize the fact that the next Passover Jesus ate would be in heaven. What does “I won’t eat this meal again” mean? There is a textual problem with this verse. Pay attention to the details as I teach Deeper Biblers. The word “again” is grayed out and in brackets meaning it was not in the original text.
The options among the translations are as follows:
- (AMP) I shall eat it no more until
- (ASV) I shall not eat it until
- (CEV) I will not eat another Passover meal until
- (EMTV) no longer will I eat of it until
- (GNB) I will never eat it until
- (GW) I won’t eat it again until
- (ISV) I will never again eat one until
- KJV I will not any more eat thereof, until
- (LITV) I will not eat of it until
- (MSG) It’s the last one I’ll eat until
- (NLT) I won’t eat this meal again
Notice some have “again” and some don’t. The word for “again” does not appear in all Greek texts. There is a considerable degree of doubt as to whether it was original. This results in a number of possibilities of meaning for this verse.
- If the reading “not eat it again” is correct then the sense is this is the last time for Jesus to share in this meaningful meal with them.
- If the reading “I shall not eat it” is correct then the meaning is unclear.
- It could refer to all of the activities of Passover and hence referring to the fact that He Himself is going to die as the Passover lamb. [Jews use the Passover meal to refer to all of the events of the week]
- It could signify that He will never eat the Passover meal because later Passover will be no more, because in heaven all sin will be gone.
- It could simply mean He will eat this Passover but no more until He eats the heavenly one. But unlikely.
“fulfilled in the kingdom of God”
The Passover will indeed be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God. When the Kingdom of God finally comes on earth as it is in heaven then there will be no need for Passover. All sin will be gone and therefore no need for a Passover lamb again. In fact with the coming of Jesus the first time that was the case as well. But it needs to be fulfilled or worked out for all of mankind not just a few chosen ones. Jesus was looking through the Ages to the consummation of the Kingdom at the inaugural banquet, the Feast of the Lamb in heaven. The purpose of the Passover meal will be fully realized.
However there are some who feel the meaning of this refers to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper in this Age. I.e. The Passover will be substituted by the Institution of the Lord’s Supper in this Age.
There is one more element still to be discussed which I will leave for the next Gem. That is the question of the order and the number of bread and cups in Luke. Just what is going on here. He seems to have the cup before the bread and he mentions the cup twice. It is all a little confusing. We will address that issue along with Luke’s overall purpose in the following Gem.
Religion calls uniformity unity. In the kingdom unity requires diversity.Bill Johnson
In united diversity we find complimentary strength, and the unusual ability to excel in creativity.Bill Johnson
If Your DREAMS don’t Scare You, They’re Not BIG Enough.Anon
Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.Albert Einstein
The difference between the called and the chosen is that the chosen choose to answer!Rick Godwin