Based on a series of sermons preached in PCC Prayer Meetings in 2021
It is Thursday, 6 April, AD 30. In a matter of hours, the Lord Jesus will be betrayed, tried and crucified. But at the moment, He is still preparing His disciples for His soon departure. As part of the preparation, He will celebrate the Passover with His disciples for the last time and then institute the Lord’s Supper using the bread and wine they eat and drink at the Passover meal.
Remarkably, as soon as He sits down with His disciples for the supper, He says unto them, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).
Now, the words “with desire I have desired” seem tautologous. It’s like saying, “with love, I have loved my wife.” How else could I love my wife? But really, although it may sound strange to an English speaker, it is perfectly meaningful for one who was brought up in the Hebrew or Aramaic culture. It is a way of emphasis. In Genesis 2, the LORD tells Adam that in the day that he eats of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he shall “surely die” (Gen 2:17). In Hebrew, it is “dying, ye shall die.” That is to say: you will absolutely die.
So here in our text, the Lord is saying that He has an intense desire to eat this particular Passover with His disciples. He was looking forward to it, and is pleased to be finally sitting down with his disciples for it.
We can think of at least three reasons:
First, the Lord was looking forward to celebrating this important meal with them for the last time so that they may enjoy one another fellowship again before they part company.
It’s like when your loved one is about to leave you for a season, you will, no doubt, look forward to enjoying a final meal with him or her even though you are not looking forward to the separation.
Thus, our Lord was looking forward to enjoying a special meal with His disciples one last time before He headed to the cross.
Secondly, the Lord desired to eat this Passover with them because He wanted to take this opportunity to explain to them again why He needed to go to the cross. This is why He speaks of eating the supper before He suffers and refers to its fulfilment in the kingdom of God (v. 16).
The Passover lamb, of course, pointed to Himself. He is the firstborn of God who would die on behalf of the firstborns in Israel on the night they were delivered out of Egypt. He is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world for the redemption of His people. His blood is the antitype of the blood of the lamb smeared on the doorpost of every Jewish family every year for generations as they awaited their Messiah to turn away God’s wrath from them.
While the Lord had celebrated the Passover with His disciples on two other occasions before, this is the one that will be especially memorable and meaningful to them because it is closest to the actual sacrifice of the Passover of God.
Thirdly, the Lord desired to keep this Passover with His disciples because it is at this last Passover that He will institute the Lord’s Supper to serve as a bloodless replacement for the Passover. By the Lord’s Supper, His disciples and those who believe in Him through their testimony will remember His death for them.
They will no longer observe the Passover, which involves a bloody sacrifice. They will now enjoy the Lord’s Supper, which is neither bloody nor a sacrifice. They will no longer celebrate it in private as families; they will now celebrate it publicly as a church family or a communion of saints. They will no longer look forward to the death of the Messiah; they will look back to the Messiah’s sacrifice and look forward to life with Him for all eternity.
But what can we learn from our Saviour’s desire?
That Passover that our Lord desired to eat is over. It is a historical event. It is one of its kind since it is the only Passover at which the Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper.
If so, what implications does our Lord’s desire to eat it have for us?
Well, we can think of at least three implications.
Firstly, the Lord’s Supper is the equivalent of the Passover. One of the reasons our Lord was desirous of eating the Passover with His disciples that night is because He was going to institute the Lord’s Supper. Therefore, our Lord’s desire speaks of the importance of the Lord’s Supper for us.
If that is so, should we not have the same desire to come to the Lord’s Supper as our Lord desired to come to that particular Passover? As our Lord earnestly desired to come to the Passover, so we ought to earnestly desire to come to the Table. Therefore, should we not repent of our half-heartedness and readiness to give excuses for not wanting to come to the Supper?
Secondly, our Lord desired to come to that particular Passover, no doubt, because it would be the most meaningful of all the three Passovers He enjoyed with them since it is nearest to the Cross. In other words, our Lord was not so concerned about the rituals and ceremonies involved in the sacred meal as He was concerned about its meaning.
If so, does it not behove us to desire to come to the Table meaningfully with preparation and meditations related to the Cross? Shall we not meditate on what Christ did for us? How He suffered for us? How He bled and died for us? Shall we not acknowledge that it was our sin that nailed Him to the cross? Shall we not come with contrition for our sins and failures? Shall we not come with thanksgiving that we are forgiven for Christ’s sake?
Thirdly, our Saviour greatly desired to eat of the Passover with His disciples because He delighted in their fellowship even though He knew that on that night, not only would He be betrayed, but one of His closest disciples would deny Him three times, and all the rest would scatter from Him in fear. Shall we not imitate Him to delight to come to the Table together with fellow saints despite knowing our fellowship is not perfect today?
Shall we not examine our own hearts and repent of our hardness of heart against one another so that we do not come in hypocrisy and be a Judas at the Table? And shall we not come with humility, not despising one another’s fellowship, but rather receiving one another for Christ’s sake—so that we may be one bread in Him?