And He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
Scripture: Luke 22:14-20
The words “eagerly desired” pose something of a problem as I reflect on this text. First of all, Jesus is speaking of one of the Jewish holiday meals … the Passover. Second, by qualifying this meal with the words “before I suffer,” He suggests that this will be His last meal with the Twelve. His words relate to a holiday meal and His last meal.
Now, I have no problem with eagerly desiring a holiday meal and my favorite holiday meal is the traditional Thanksgiving meal of roasted or smoked turkey with cornbread dressing or apple and sausage stuffing. Then there would be a sideboard with creamy mashed potatoes and the Tipsy Parson’s Sweet Potatoes, Brussel sprouts, a green bean or broccoli casserole, succotash (a tasty side of corn and lima beans, delicious anytime. but often only served at this holiday meal), cranberry relishes or sauces, perhaps creamed onions, and yeast rolls. When the dessert cart is rolled out we would find an assortment of cakes (Caramel, German Chocolate, Red Velvet, and Pound) and pies (apple, pecan and pumpkin). You understand, of course, why this is my favorite holiday meal. The best part of the traditional Thanksgiving meal is being surrounded by loved ones and friends as we share that festive meal together. I do look forward to this menu and fortunately I can sit down to a turkey dinner almost any time in the year.
I’m not absolutely certain how I would feel if I knew what I was about to eat would be my last meal. If Thanksgiving Day was to be my last day and that traditional holiday meal was to be my last one, then I would be tempted to add on a few more courses … to stretch the meal out. Let’s put out some appetizers with two of my favorite ingredients (bacon and cheeses). Let’s follow that up with some Minestrone or pumpkin soup. We are often reminded that the Pilgrims would have had seafood as part of their celebration, so we need to add some codfish and shrimp. Some beef tenderloin might be nice when I tire of feasting on turkey. We also did not serve any fruit or salads, so we might as well include some of those foods, too. Even those who are eating their last meal cannot stretch it out forever. Sooner or later they have to stop somewhere when they cannot eat one more bite!
I believe Jesus earnestly desired to eat this Passover meal with His disciples because it was the holiday meal that reminded the people how God acted to save the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt. It was a meal for celebrating being a part of God’s chosen people and enjoying fellowship with one another. I believe Jesus earnestly desired to eat with them before He suffered because He knew what was awaiting Him and that the sooner those events (His arrest, trial, passion and crucifixion) transpired, the closer the coming of God’s kingdom would be. Jesus knew that He would be dying on the cross for the sins of the world and that those who believe in Him would receive forgiveness of their sins and become heirs of eternal life. Those are the only reasons that I can conclude why Jesus earnestly desired this last meal.
O God, of holidays and ordinary days, we thank You for the good foods that sustain us and for the people with whom we share our meals. Keep us mindful of those who are hungry and help us to share with them. Let us live with the joyful expectation of sharing with You the Messianic Banquet in heaven. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.