We call it “the Last Supper,” but I’ve come to believe it should properly be called “the Last Supper for Now.” During the meal, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25). Matthew tells us something more in his version of this account. There, Jesus says He’ll be sharing the wine “with you” (Matthew 26:29). There will be another dinner, another feast where Jesus will be gathered with His disciples once again. But this one will not be a last meal before suffering and sadness. This meal will be a celebration of joy. The apostle John caught a glimpse of this future, nothing-like-it-ever-before party. In a vision, he saw a marriage celebration, a time of joy for the Lord and His people at the end of history (Revelation 19:6–9).
The Last Supper that Jesus spent with His disciples before His arrest wasn’t exactly an upbeat affair: Judas left early to finalize his plans to betray Jesus (John 13:21–30); Jesus told Peter he would deny Him three times that very night (Mark 14:30); and Jesus clued the remaining disciples in on how, centuries earlier, Zechariah had predicted they’d all abandon Him in His moment of need (Mark 14:27). Of course, it was Jesus who bore the brunt of sadness, knowing that in just a matter of hours He would be arrested, tried, and falsely convicted. The next day, He would be tortured before being nailed to a tree for the sins of humanity. It all hung like a shadow over the upper room. Yet, it was Jesus who told His friends, “You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy” (John 16:20).
We are sheep made of the same stuff as Jesus’s first disciples. We scatter pretty easily too. That’s why, after Jesus passed around His cup of wine at the Last Supper for Now, He spoke of a new covenant (Mark 14:24), the mention of which would have surely conjured up memories of God’s words to Jeremiah in the minds of His disciples: “‘Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days’—the LORD’s declaration. ‘I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people’” (Jeremiah 31:33).
As we step closer to Good Friday, let’s look to Golgotha, that hill where He was crucified. It was there that Jesus’s blood was poured out so that we could be brought near to God through the new covenant. That’s why, even as we mourn our sin, recognizing that it was our rebellion that nailed Jesus to the cross, we have reason for joy: we have a wedding feast to prepare for. We’ve been invited to the party of parties, one we’ll talk about for ages and ages to come. And we’ll be there, not because of anything we have done, but because Jesus is the Good Shepherd who willingly lays down His for His sheep, even the ones who wander off when the pressure is on.
Written by John Greco