Luke 22:14-19

Today we look at the first half of Jesus passover meal with the disciples and consider the role and purpose of the passover meal for Christians today.

Καὶ ὅτε ἐγένετο ἡ ὥρα, ἀνέπεσεν καὶ οἱ ἀπόστολοι σὺν αὐτῷ. καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς Ἐπιθυμίᾳ ἐπεθύμησα τοῦτο τὸ πάσχα φαγεῖν μεθ᾿ ὑμῶν πρὸ τοῦ με παθεῖν· λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐ μὴ φάγω αὐτὸ ἕως ὅτου πληρωθῇ ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ. καὶ δεξάμενος ποτήριον εὐχαριστήσας εἶπεν Λάβετε τοῦτο καὶ διαμερίσατε εἰς ἑαυτούς· λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν, οὐ μὴ πίω ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν ἀπὸ τοῦ γενήματος τῆς ἀμπέλου ἕως οὗ ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ ἔλθῃ. καὶ λαβὼν ἄρτον εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς λέγων Τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου [ τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν διδόμενον· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν.]

When the hour arrived, he reclined [at the table] along with the apostles. He said to them: “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover [feast] with you before [the time] for me to suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” After receiving the cup and giving thanks, he said: “Take this [cup] and divide it amongst yourselves.” For I tell you, “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now until the kingdom of God comes.” After taking the bread and giving thanks, he gave it to them saying “This is my body, which is given to you, do this in rememberance of me.”

Text notes:

  • I find the phrase “eagerly desired” difficult to exactly communicate in English. ἐπιθυμία has a range of meaning from earnestly, to passion and lust. There is clearly a strong emphasis on Jesus desire to complete this meal together, but lust and passion dont necessarily have the right overtones in modern English, and the term ‘earnestly’ has a feel of old English. How would you translate it?
  • The last verse of this section contains a bracked phrase, suggesting some scholars are unsure if this phrase would have been found in the original copy of this work. In short, does the text contain a “bread then cup” sequence, or a “bread then cup then bread” or “bread-cup-bread” for short. However, the long version is found in almost all of the oldest manuscrpts (Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, P75), it is found in the later dated majority/byzantine texts, and the longer version is quoted by Augustine, Basil, Eusebius. The only key testimony against the longer version is D (Codex Bezae). I am not sure the brackets are warrented, and am actually wondering why the Nestle-Aland text adds the brackets at all? Perhaps the discomfort with this text is casused by it not being found in Mark and Matthew?
  • It is recorded that Jesus states, in typical shorthand greek form “I will not eat it” again, but it is slightly ambiguous what Jesus is referring to here. It is assumedly a reference to not eating a passover meal, but it could also suggest Jesus will not eat anything until he returns.
  • Jesus notes that he will not “eat of it (the passover)” until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God. Does this mean Jesus won't eat a passover type meal until he is taken into heaven, or until he returns to the earth? Is Jesus’ death and resurrection itself, a fulfilment of passover, or is it not all fulfilled until he returns? Robert Stein in the NAC commentary writes:

Until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God. This refers to the time of the messianic banquet at the end of history, i.e., when the kingdom is consummated

Theological Reflection

What specifically is Jesus suggesting is to be done in rememberance of him. Is it merely to have a ceremony where we eat bread and drink wine as a way reminding us to look foward to Jesus’ return? Is Jesus suggesting that the passover feast itself—which was initially established to memorialise the delivery of Israel from Egypt—is now repurposed, to be a memorial and looking forward to the ultimate deliverance with the arrival of the Kingdom of God?

It seems to be an important question. Are we to be intermittently simply eating and drinking, or are we to be celebrating a complete festival feast? Does this impact how we live this out at our church this Easter?

What kind of ‘fear’ (ἐφοβοῦντο imperfect middle plural of φοβέω) do the leaders have of the people. Were they afraid the people might reject their plan, are they afraid that the people might rise up and overthrow their leaders, or perhaps even kill their leaders? It seems most likely that their reason (v7) to apprihend him apart from the crowd is that they simply didn't want to enter into a popularity contest, they were afraid of being able to control the mob, which at one minute loved Jesus, and the next minute, could be riled up to call for his killing. It seems the Jewish leaders preferred to walk the path they were taking without inteference from the crowd.

Theological application

It is interesting that Luke places at least a small focus on the motives of the Jewish leaders, they do appear to have convinced themselves that they are acting within God's laws, and they do appear to have a fear acting motivated by concern for what the people might think of them and how thep people might react. Is there a lesson in here for us? Do we at times convince ourselves that certain decisions are religiously correct when they are not, with a blindness to what God's true heart is for us, and what the law truly intended to communicate? How do leaders balance following God with the legitimate concern for how the people might react? Are there we times where we might avoid God's intentions for fear of the crowd, and are there times where living God's intensions for our lives are rightly done in secret?