Maundy Thursday 2019
When the time came for Jesus and the apostles to eat, he said to them, “I have very much wanted to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer. I tell you that I will not eat another Passover meal until it is finally eaten in God’s kingdom.”
Jesus took a cup of wine in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he told the apostles, “Take this wine and share it with each other. I tell you that I will not drink any more wine until God’s kingdom comes.”
Jesus took some bread in his hands and gave thanks for it. He broke the bread and handed it to his apostles. Then he said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Eat this as a way of remembering me!”
After the meal he took another cup of wine in his hands. Then he said, “This is my blood. It is poured out for you, and with it God makes his new agreement.
• Luke 22:14-20
“When Jesus wanted to give his followers — then and now — a way of understanding what was about to happen to him, he didn’t teach them a theory. …He gave them an act to perform. Specifically, he gave them a meal to share” (Tom Wright).
Luke’s Gospel makes it clear that this was a meal eaten at Passover time. It thus brings to mind the founding story of Israel with all that involves: exile and slavery under the powers of the nations, judgment on those nations’ gods, divine redemption, deliverance, and the gift of freedom to make a journey of faith in covenant relationship with the true and living God.
Jesus meets now at the table with his disciples as the climax and fulfillment of that story — the true Passover, the lamb sacrificed, the unleavened bread prepared and eaten, the blood painted on the lintels and doorposts. The body given, the blood shed, the meal shared, and life received. Food for the ongoing journey.
I can no longer conceive of weekly Christian worship without the family of God in Christ gathering around the Table. It is where the entire story comes together, where the people of God taste and are nourished by the good news of salvation. It is the heart of worship, the very act of worship for Christians. We may have our occasional prayer services or services of the Word, but these are the exceptions. Genuine Christian worship involves the Word of good news and the Table where we feast upon the bread of life.
On this evening long ago, Jesus, who during Holy Week has been announcing judgment on the powers that hold God’s people captive, now serves them the meal of freedom.
Let the New Exodus begin!