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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

JESUS' FINAL PASSOVER MEAL

Luke 22:14-18 And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. And He said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. (Also See Matt. 26:20; Mark 14:17)

At His direction the apostles of Jesus, who probably were Peter and John, had secured a room in which to celebrate and eat the Passover meal together. They had no doubt obtained the sacrificial lamb required for this meal, prepared it according to Jewish law, and made it ready to be eaten along with the required bitter herbs and unleavened bread. And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. The hour the Passover meal was to be eaten was now at hand and Jesus was gathered together with His twelve apostles. Although Judas had already verbally betrayed Jesus by accepting the terms offered by those that sought to take His life, his plot was not publicly known, therefore, he still attended this Passover meal with Jesus and the other apostles.

As they were all gathered together in an upper room of His charitable host to celebrate this holy occasion, Jesus expressed His desire to eat this Passover with His apostles, knowing it to be the final time to do so. That being said, Jesus told them prophetically, as He had a number of times previously, about the death that He was destined from the beginning of time to suffer for the sins of the world. Although it is true that His apostles did not understand the death that Jesus was to face in a few days, the lesson text assures us that it was true and would soon be fulfilled. This was the meaning of the following statement made to His apostles: I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer (meaning before I die): for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. Without any doubt, Jesus had developed an extremely close brotherly relationship with His apostles, and the thought of having to leave them brought human sorrow into His heart. Yet, we also know that His spiritual body desired to return to His Heavenly Father that had sent Him to earth to bring salvation to the redeemed of all ages.

When reading this passage, I often think of large family gatherings that often take place to pay honor and gratitude to a relative that is about to depart from their midst for an extended period of time, such as being sent on a long-term military mission. From a human standpoint, extreme sorrow is felt by the one that is departing. However, knowing the glorious reception he or she will receive on returning eases the pain of departure. As human beings who experience all different emotions of mankind, we know these same inner feelings must have dwelt on the mind of Jesus. He was filled with sorrow for those that He would leave behind to carry on the work He had begun, but, knowing His glorious return to gather His own obedient followers, certainly filled Him with gladness.

Wine, referred to here as the fruit of the vine, was a part of, and was always taken with the Passover meal as it was celebrated and eaten. Partaking of this beverage was always initiated by the host, and in this instance it was Jesus that began passing the cup of wine to others. Bible historians tell us that the cup was generally passed by the host to the first person on his right. It continued to be passed around until it came to the person to the left of the host. This seemed to have taken place during this holy celebration by Jesus and His twelve apostles. This was part of the Passover feast, and is not to be confused with the "Lord's Supper" that was instituted beginning with verse 19 following the lesson text.

After partaking of wine by all present, Jesus then told His apostles: I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. This was spoken by Him in reference to the holy rite of Communion that would become a part of the worship service of Christians after the establishment of the kingdom of God, His church, the church of Christ. This we know took place on the Day of Pentecost, the celebration of the Feast of Weeks, which took place on the fiftieth day following the four feast weeks beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, or the Passover.