Luke 22:14-16 14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
We all know what it feels like to be eager for something to take place. I lived with anticipation for about ten months for our wedding vow renewal that took place yesterday. I texted our kids in January and asked them to block off the whole weekend to participate with us in the renewal of our vows. Hannah sent back a “thumbs up” emoji and Josh texted back, “That’s too far away for me to remember. Text me again closer to the event.” I wasn’t really afraid in January that their November calendar would be overrun with commitments, but I was so eager, so excited to start the planning of our big day that I just had to talk about the event. I was eager for the day to come.
Jesus was eager for this particular Passover. There had been other Passovers with His disciples before this one, but He couldn’t wait to share this Passover with His disciples because He had something to say, something NEW to say.
Luke goes on to say, 17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
Drinking from a cup during the Passover meal wasn’t a new experience for the disciples. There were four prescribed places in the Jewish Passover when cups would be lifted, and as they were, a blessing and a story would be told. Each of the “four cups” represents a statement God made to the Jewish people in Exodus 6.
- The Cup of Sanctification: “I will bring you out from under the burden of the Egyptians.” Exodus 6:6
Sanctification means “set apart.” This cup reminded the Jewish people that God had set them apart from the other nations. They were a chosen people, a special and holy people, set apart for God’s glory. They would be removed, separated from the false gods of Egypt.
- The Cup of Judgment (or Plagues): “I will deliver you from their bondage.” Exodus 6:6b
Judgment was going to fall on the land of Egypt through the plagues God would send to convince the Pharoah to let God’s people go from their slavery.
- The Cup of Redemption: “I will . . . redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” Exodus 6:6c
In the ancient world, redemption referred to slaves being purchased and liberated.
- The Cup of Praise: “I will take you for My people, and I will be your God.” Exodus 6:7
It was the third cup, the Cup of Redemption, that Jesus lifted after the supper. It was this cup that Jesus would rename. He would call it the New Covenant in His blood, a cup that He would pour out for them. He would redeem them, purchase them from their slavery to sin, not with silver or gold, but with His life’s blood. Look at verses 19 and 20:
19 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.” 20 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.
While this is the place in Scripture where we see the New Covenant being instituted and tied to the work of Jesus on the cross, God had God first announced and defined the New Covenant in the Old Testament through the Prophet Jeremiah. Look at Jeremiah 31:31ff 31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to[d] them,[e]” declares the Lord.
That covenant was written on stone tablets. The law God gave to Moses was to direct the people’s hearts to God, was to enable them to live a holy life, to help them live set apart for God’s glory, but they broke the covenant over and over again. The Ten Commandments, the Laws of God, were never about following rules, but they were intended to enable people to engage in relationship with a holy God.
Exodus 24:3- 3 When Moses went and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.”
In that moment, they were all-in, but they broke the covenants they had made in no time. While Moses was getting the final details about His expectations, the Israelites were busy making a golden calf to worship. Moses’ brother built an altar in front of the calf and the next day the people got up and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings to that golden calf, giving the calf credit for bringing them out of Egypt. They hadn’t meant what they said when they affirmed their covenant with God.
Listen, God wants more than our words. He wants our wills.
Look at what Jeremiah 31 goes on to say: 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
When Jesus instituted a New Covenant, He was talking about heart change. He was saying this New Covenant, this new way of relating with God, would be made possible in and through His sacrifice. The blood of bulls and goats could never provide the salvation they needed. (Hebrews 10:4) They could never convert a heart. Those Old Testament sacrifices weren’t meant to accomplish that. They were a temporary measure that was meant to point people to Jesus who would suffice as “the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)
We would be able to have a conversion of our mind and a change of heart that would enable us to live as the people of God as Jesus sacrificed His life for us. Jesus did the sacrificing. We simply do the surrendering to Him as our Lord and Savior. We can’t be the people of God without a change of heart. That change of heart leads to a change of life, and none of it is possible without Jesus.
Ezekiel 36:25-28 is another Old Testament reference to the New Covenant that Jesus instituted. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean;
Have you allowed Jesus to cleanse you? You cannot be cleansed from your sin without Jesus.
I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.
Are you trusting in anything or anyone instead of Jesus for security, peace, and joy? Is Jesus the Lord of your life or does something else control you?
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.
Have you been made new in your heart? Do you have a heart for God? Do you have a heart for the Kingdom of God? Has your spirit, your soul, your attitude, your mind, your way of doing life been touched by the transforming power of God? Does your spirit reflect that you have received the love, grace and mercy of God or does selfishness, bitterness, and anger rule your heart?
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Can you testify to unholy and unhelpful things God has removed from your life? Have you had a change of heart? Is there compassion where there used to be judgment? Is there sensitivity to God’s voice where there used to be a concern for approval from the people around you? Are you moved by the things that move the heart of God?
27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Do you view a relationship with God as work, work, work, or have you been filled with the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, who changes your desires, transforming them into the desires God wants you to have? When you have a desire to want to do the things God wants you to do, you aren’t having to overcome yourself just to get off the starting block. With transformed desires and Holy Spirit power to live out those desires, you won’t fail.
28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36:25-28
Has that happened for you? That is the process of salvation. That is the story being told when Jesus lifted up the third cup, the cup of redemption. That is the blessing He was conveying when rolled out the New Covenant, even ahead of His death on the cross. When we observe communion, we are observing the symbolism in the third cup. To participate in communion is to testify that you have been saved, redeemed by the blood of Christ, that you are a participant in the New Covenant.
Well, I mentioned there are four cups in the Passover. If Jesus used the third cup to institute the New Covenant, where does the fourth cup figure in all of it? It’s the cup of praise. During the Cup of Praise, the fourth cup, there was a promise recalled where God declared, “I will take you for My people, and I will be your God.” Exodus 6:7
Sounds like the promise you would make at a wedding. When this fourth cup was taken, the Jewish people would sing the “Hallel,” from Psalm 113-118. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that after the third cup, they did sing, but there is no mention of the partaking from a fourth cup in any of the Gospels. Scripture talks about the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb,” a feast that is yet to come when we are all gathered to Him for all of eternity in Heaven. Jesus abstained from the fourth cup because it is a cup that is yet to come for all who are in Christ. It is the Cup of Praise, the Cup of Consummation, the Cup of the Covenant that forever seals that we are His people and that He is our God.
Will you be able to partake of the fourth cup? Will you be at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb as is described in the book of Revelation? No-one will drink from the fourth cup if they haven’t first drunk from the third cup, the Cup of Redemption. There had been So much anticipation surrounding the coming of the Messiah. People waited a long time for Jesus to come on the scene. Many prophecies declared His coming. The faithful waited and watched.
One more time, hear Luke 22:14-16 14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus was eager to let everyone know that the time for the redemption of the world had come. I guarantee He is looking forward as well, to His wedding day, when He receives us, the Bride of Christ, to forever be with Him where He is. Today, as we observe communion, we celebrate not only the third cup, the Cup of Redemption, but we celebrate ahead of the consuming of the fourth cup, the Cup of Praise, when God’s people are gathered together to feast forever with Him.