The Fruit of the Vine
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 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.”
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
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The last few days, as I’ve been lying in this hospital bed unable to eat or drink, I’ve been thinking a lot about this passage. This final meal before his crucifixion, Jesus emphasizes two points: The disciples will continue to celebrate this meal in remembrance of what’s about to happen, but Jesus himself won’t taste it again until the Kingdom of God comes. We often take the practice of the Lord’s Supper for granted; a tradition and ritual that we squeeze into our regular church routines, maybe every week, maybe once a month, maybe only a few times a year. Yet for Jesus it was significant, something he eagerly looked forward. The final meal with his disciples before his earthly ministry came to a close. Simple bread and wine, forever a symbol of his crucifixion and atonement for our sins.
There is also the longing for the next time he’ll be able to eat this meal again with his students and friends. We’ll have the chance to eat it as often as we like, but Jesus is going to have to go without it for a while. Of course, there’s no shortage of food in heaven (and we love to dream of the new tastes and sensations we will have there), and certainly a king can eat whatever he wants, but Jesus states in Matthew’s account in particular that he’ll be waiting to partake in it again until his disciples have joined him in heaven.
Having not tasted anything all week, I think I’m having an easier time imaging what that would have felt like. I probably would have savored my food a little more last week if I knew I wouldn’t be tasting things again for a while, and I certainly have a great longing to taste something again one day. Yet the taste I find myself longing for this week is our simple bread and grape juice of communion…the Lord’s Supper.
While I don’t when day that will be, for me it’s simply waiting for this NG tube to be taken out at some point. We’re draining my GI tract as much as we can in preparation for surgery, and also in the hopes that it will help clear up this obstruction, and I don’t know how long it will take. I won’t be able to taste anything again until that suffering is complete. Yet the eagerness I have for that day doesn’t compare to the eagerness Jesus has for the day when all the children of God will partake in that great supper together. So let’s not take the Lord’s Supper lightly; it’s a small little piece of heaven we get to experience here on earth as we look forward to the day when we all get to partake in it together.