On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.Mark 14:12-26
Reading Jesus’ final statement at the last supper never fails to move me: “Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” “Fruit of the vine” refers to wine, and it is a drink for festive occasions. However, Jesus said he will not drink of it again until the kingdom of God—which he came to inaugurate—is finally completed on earth in the age to come. This evokes a bitter-sweet feeling in me. On the one hand, our beloved Lord is saying he will not be celebrating with us until all of us join him at table in the age to come. On the other hand, there will be much joyous celebration with him when we finally get there!
This bitter-sweet feeling is amplified whenever I participate in the Holy Communion. As I drink the wine (or juice), I’m reminded that Jesus isn’t here drinking with us. Even though we confess that we partake of Jesus’ body and blood in the bread and wine, he isn’t here with us in the fullness of an embodied life eating and drinking with us. In the midst of a sacramental presence there remains a profound absence. I suppose that makes the meal we share in anticipatory. Holy Communion looks forward to the glorious messianic banquet we will all have with our beloved Lord when we’re gathered to him in the age to come. Meanwhile, he sustains us with himself as spiritual food in the bread and wine until we’re finally received into his kingdom. Then he shall prepare a table for us and with cups overflowing, we shall drink of the fruit of the vine together to the ages of ages.