I love to date my wife. Our first date is one I’ll never forget, but it wasn’t nearly as special as the one we had just a couple weeks ago. That’s because when we were first starting out, we didn’t have a shared history to talk about yet. We also didn’t have much of a present life together either. And while most of our relationship was still in the future, we would have freaked each other out on that first date to talk about the kids we might have or the places we might live.
But now we have it all: the past, present, and future, and they collide whenever we get to spend time together. We talk about what it was like when we first fell in love. We talk about our wedding, and our first house together. We talk about our kids—what they were like as newborns and that cute thing they did this morning. We talk about our current challenges and what God is teaching us. And we talk about the future: our hopes and dreams, that beat up, old Jeep I’m going to buy someday, and the sewing room Laurin would like to have. On these dates, the past, present, and future come crashing together, and it’s beautiful.
Something like this was at work when Jesus sat down with His disciples for the meal we now know as the Last Supper. The meal was a Passover celebration, a time for the people of God to look back and remember how He delivered their ancestors from Egypt and made them into a nation, and how a spotless lamb took the place of every firstborn son of Israel the night the Lord visited Egypt in judgment.
But the Last Supper was also a time to think about the future. Before the meal, Jesus told His friends how much He was looking forward to sharing Passover with them. “For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:16). One day there will be another supper, one to which every Passover meal and Lord’s Supper commemoration look forward: the marriage feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9). That meal will be a celebration of God’s ultimate deliverance of His people, from sin and death and this present evil age. It will be the party that puts all other parties to shame, because, at last, Jesus and His bride, the Church, will be together forever.
Looming over these echoes of the past and nods to the future was a very real and very difficult present. Judas, one of the Twelve, was about to betray Jesus. The disciples would abandon their Master. Jesus would be arrested and put on trial. Peter would deny Him three times. The Son of God would be mocked, spat upon, tortured, and crucified. He would die like the lowest of criminals. With all this weighing on His mind, Jesus looked at His disciples around the table and then “took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me’” (Luke 22:19).
In that moment, the past, the present, and the future collided. The Passover was always about so much more than an escape from Egypt; it was about the spotless Lamb of God who would be broken to take away the sins of the world. And the marriage feast of the Lamb could never happen if Jesus’s bride were left in her filthy rags. She needed to be cleansed, purified, and dressed in fine linen, “bright and pure” (Revelation 19:8).
She is made pure—we are made pure—because Jesus took her sins upon Himself. Thanks be to God for what He has done in the past, for His Spirit’s power at work in the present, and for the future He has secured through the faithful obedience of His Son.
Written by John Greco