LENTEN DEVOTION: The Passover Meal by Johann Ernst von Holst
Morning and Evening Devotions for the Holy Season of Lent
From The Crucified Is My Love
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.” (John 13:1; Luke 22:14-18)
On the Thursday evening before Easter, the Lord and his disciples entered the room that was prepared for the festival and sat down. He knew that this was the last Passover that he would celebrate with his disciples on Earth, and they too were filled with anxious fears. Then the Lord opened his mouth and said, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” What was the reason for this earnest longing? He knew how decisive this meal was for him. He knew that arrest, torture, and death would follow. But the power of love overcame all fear. “Having loved his own, he loved them to the end.” He wanted once more to share a peaceful meal with his faithful disciples, who had left everything to follow him. He wanted to lay his last teachings on their hearts and impart Heavenly comfort to their souls, to give them strength to endure even the most difficult things for his sake. He longed once more to be refreshed and comforted by their fellowship of love. But his vision saw beyond this.
The Passover was a festival in memory of Israel’s liberation from slavery in Egypt, but at the same time it was a prophecy of the freeing of the whole of humankind from the heavy yoke of sin and condemnation through the atoning death of the perfect Paschal Lamb. It was his earnest longing now to fulfill this 1500-year-old prophecy and at long last to redeem the lost world through his sacrificial death, to close in this way the old covenant and set up the new one. But he saw still further beyond this deed of redemption. He looked into that sunny distance beyond time where his whole work would be brought to perfection, where he would celebrate the meal of joy on the transfigured Earth with a redeemed humankind and drink with them the new fruit of the vine.
The Lord’s earnest longing is the same for all Christians throughout all ages and in all nations and for us too. But alas, how dull are our hearts, how lukewarm is our love for him, how little do we understand what he feels and does for us! Certainly in our hearts is also an abyss of longing and yearning, but all too often our wishes and desires are set only upon transient Earthly pleasures, which can never satisfy us and bring us true happiness. We draw water from broken cisterns, and if we continue in this futile way we are bound to languish miserably with our thirst unquenched. Oh, that we might learn to bring all our thoughts into one high longing and endeavor: that we might set them completely on him who has loved us so ardently, and in whom alone we find peace!
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