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Monday, April 18, 2011

The Fourth Cup

Luke 20:14-20 "When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, 'I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.' After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, 'Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.' And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."

After his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus began to have some confrontations with the religious leaders during which, they began to plot his death. He also experienced some teachable moments with the disciples as he neared the end of his life and ministry on earth. As time grew short, they came together to celebrate what would be their last earthly Passover.

During a traditional Passover feast, four cups of wine are drunk and each cup represents one of the four "I Will" statements God made to the Israelites in Exodus 6:6-7:
  • I will take you out of Egypt
  • I will deliver you from bondage
  • I will redeem you
  • I will take you as my own people
The first two cups were drunk prior to the meal, so in verse 20 when Jesus says after the meal, "THIS cup...", he was telling them that the third cup of redemption was the cup of the new covenant that was made in his blood. In both the Luke account and the Mathew 26 account, Jesus declines to drink again. He says he will never drink of the vine again until he comes into his kingdom. He does not drink the fourth cup of the Passover - the cup of ingathering.

One day there will be a wedding...and in the tradition of all good Jewish weddings, it will have three parts. First, the contract. The cup of redemption signified the New Covenant or Contract sealed with the blood of Christ. Secondly, the groom will come to collect his bride. What a day when Christ returns for his bride - the church - US! Lastly, there is a feast. In Revelation 19, John describes a scene of celebrants gathering for a wedding, the bride preparing herself, and the invitation is issued. In Revelation 19:17 an angel stands before the multitudes and beckons, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God."

Perhaps Jesus is waiting to drink that last cup of wine - the cup of ingathering - when he gathers his bride to his home. Perhaps, he is waiting to drink it with us...

"Dear Jesus, As we meditate on the sacrifice you made for us during this holiest of weeks, may we also remember that this week was only a beginning. Help us always to await your return with anticipation. May we always be ready."

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