By Stuart Powell
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” (Luke 22:14-16).
Jesus’ apostles gathered in the large upper room of a house in Jerusalem (vv. 11, 12) to celebrate the Passover meal, the seder, together. They were there because of the one leading the meal, their rabbi from Galilee.
As each course of food was eaten, those gathered remembered what God did to Egypt and what he had done for every generation of Israelites. As they recalled the affliction of slavery, Jesus spoke about his suffering. That’s when Jesus said what Luke recorded. He looked forward to the time after his own suffering. . . . the time when the gatherings of those living in grace would not be limited to one room or even 100 synagogues.
Part of Jesus’ vision for the fulfillment of the Passover meal was the day when all covenant people around the globe would remember by eating the bread and drinking from the cup. Even now, Jesus looks forward to the day of countless collections of disciples from every nation remembering and celebrating what he did on the cross.
Today is the day of global gatherings.
Right now believers around the world are eating together to remember Jesus’ sacrifice. The gatherings began in secret places we’ll never visit. The gatherings will continue after we lay down to sleep. When we eat and drink to remember, we participate in Jesus’ vision.
Separations caused by a pandemic can’t stop the gatherings. The hostilities of persecution won’t halt the remembering. Neither the fear of loss, the trauma of violence, or ugliness of torture will still this meal of remembering. Even in our separation, we are eating together as one gathering. Our languages may be different, but the bread and the cup serve to reconstruct the same scene—the Son of God, dying on a Roman cross so that all who surrender will receive abundant life.
No matter how small each individual group, we are all fulfilling Jesus’ vision of eating and drinking to remember.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.