Three Meals with God

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Luke 22:14-20

INTRODUCTION: Who here likes to eat? Who here likes to eat a lot? Don’t worry, I won’t ask who likes to eat more than they should. Personally, I think food is a wonderful invention. God could have designed us differently, so that we did not require or enjoy food, but he didn’t. He chose to make us, in this life, dependent on food for life and health. He created us in such a way that food tastes good to the tongue and brings satisfaction to the body.

Food is important to us not only physically, but also socially as well. Tim Stafford in his book Knowing the Face of God talks about the social significance of sharing meals and food with other people. Sharing meals is an important part of friendship and hospitality. When we share food together, we share life and substance. As Stafford says, “The same food that goes into my stomach and becomes a part of me, also goes into your stomach and becomes a part of you.” And so, there is a bonding, there is a fellowship in sharing food. That’s one of the reasons why we have a food and fellowship time here at church between services on Sunday mornings. It is a time of sharing with each other, and sharing food strengthens our fellowship with each other.

The Bible tells us that God desires to have fellowship with us. We were created in order to have fellowship with God. It has always been God’s design to have fellowship with us. And throughout Scripture and history we see something truly remarkable. The God who desires to have fellowship with us invites us to share meals with him.

Have you ever thought about that? God wants to be a part of our meals. When we say grace, we are not just thanking God for the food. We are inviting him to join us in our fellowship. Now, of course, God is not a physical being. God is spirit. He does not “eat” food. And yet because food is such an important part of our lives as physical beings, God repeatedly devises ways for God and man to share meals in fellowship with each other.

For example, we read in Genesis 18 how God shared a meal with Abraham before judging Sodom and Gomorrah. Moses and the 70 elders ate a meal in God’s presence when God confirmed his covenant with Israel on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:11). The Levitical offerings for Israel included what was called a fellowship offering (Leviticus 3) The interesting thing about this offering is that part of the animal was eaten in the sanctuary by the offerer and his family along with the priest as a common meal in God’s presence. We read in the gospels how Jesus ate meals with his disciples and shared a breakfast with them on the beach following his resurrection. (John 21:10-13)

Our Scripture text this morning is also about a meal that Jesus shared with his disciples. Luke 22:14-20 describes Jesus’ last supper with his disciples the night before he was crucified. In these verses Jesus makes reference to three other meals. And although we have already noted that there are many examples of meals with God in Scripture, these are the big three. These three are the most significant of them all. They are the Passover, the Lord’s Supper, and the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. The Passover is a meal from the past. The Lord’s Supper is a meal for the present. And the Wedding Supper of the Lamb is a meal in the future. So, let us look at this passage in Luke together and see what we can learn about these three meals with God described in the Bible.

I. The Passover Meal – A Meal from the Past
      – Luke 22:14-15 / Exodus 12:1-30

We begin with the Passover. Look at verses 14-15. “When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.’” (Luke 22:14-15) So, the first thing we learn is that the meal Jesus shared with his disciples the night before he was crucified was a Passover meal.

   A. Release from slavery (Exodus 3:7-10; 12:12-13)

The Passover was the most important of all the Jewish meals. Each year the Jews would gather with their families to share this meal together in the presence of God.

The Passover meal signified release from slavery – the release of Israel from slavery in Egypt. For four hundred years Israel suffered as slaves in Egypt. When God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, he said to Moses, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them … So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:7-10)

Moses was not particularly thrilled with his new assignment, but after some further dialogue with God, Moses was off with his brother Aaron to bring God’s message to Pharaoh: “Let my people go!” Then, in Exodus 7-12 we read about the ten plagues God worked among the Egyptians before Pharaoh was finally willing to let the Israelites go.

The Passover meal grew out of the tenth and final plague. God sent a destroying angel to take the lives of every firstborn male in Egypt, “from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well.” (Exodus 11:5) But as God had done with a number of the other plagues, he made a distinction between Egypt and Israel.

God instructed the Israelites through Moses that on the tenth day of the month each man was to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. They were to take care of the lambs for four days, and then on the fourteenth day of the month all the people of Israel would slaughter them at twilight. Then they were to take some of the blood from the lambs and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of their houses. That night they were to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.

God said in Exodus 12:12-13: “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn – both men and animals…. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” (Exodus 12:12-13) The destroying angel would see the blood on the doorframes and would “pass over” those homes – hence the name, “Passover.”

The Israelites got busy and obeyed God’s commands. They prepared the Passover meal as instructed. That night at midnight God took the lives of the firstborn sons of Egypt. The tenth plague finally broke Pharaoh’s stubborn heart, and he let the people of Israel go. They were immediately released from slavery. Pharaoh did not even wait for the morning, but summoned Moses and Aaron during the night and bid them go.

   B. Re-enactment of God’s deliverance (Exodus 12:14-20)

And so, the original Passover meal marked the time of Israel’s release from slavery in Egypt. But God also instructed the Israelites to celebrate the Passover every year at the same time. (Exodus 12:14-20) The annual Passover meal was actually a symbolic re-enactment of God’s deliverance which took place at the first Passover. The bitter herbs were a reminder of the bitterness of Israel’s slavery in Egypt. The Passover lamb they ate each year was a reminder of the lambs that were sacrificed so that the destroying angel might pass over their homes and spare their firstborn sons. The bread without yeast was a reminder of their hasty departure in the middle of the night.

The Passover meal is a wonderful meal in and of itself, rich with symbolism and testifying to God’s mighty power in delivering his people. Most Jewish people and even some Christians still celebrate Passover today.

But for the Christian, the Passover meal takes on an even deeper significance, because we find in the events of Passover and in the Passover meal itself a foreshadowing of Christ and the cross. At the Passover God delivered Israel from slavery. At the cross Jesus delivered us from sin. At the Passover an innocent lamb without blemish or defect was sacrificed for the people. At the cross Jesus the perfect Lamb of God was sacrificed for us.

II. The Lord’s Supper – A Meal for the Present
      – Luke 22:19-20

And that leads us to the second of these three meals with God in Scripture: The Lord’s Supper or Communion. The Passover is a meal from the past. The Lord’s Supper is a meal for the present.

Going back to Luke 22, look at verses 19-20: “And Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” (Luke 22:19-20)

The Passover pointed forward to Christ’s death on the cross and deliverance from sin. Jesus shared the Passover Meal with his disciples and transformed it into a new meal – the Lord’s Supper. And when we share the Lord’s Supper together, we also share communion and fellowship with God in a special way.

   A. Release from sin (Matthew 26:28)

Just as the Passover meal signified for Israel a release from slavery, so the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, signifies for us a release from sin. Jesus said of the cup of communion in Matthew 26:28: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)

The forgiveness of sins was secured at the cross for all who place their trust and faith in Christ as Savior. Just as the Passover lambs served as a substitute for the firstborn sons of Israel, so Jesus died as our substitute on the cross. It is often pointed out that the blood of the lambs on the sides and tops of the doorframes forms a picture of the cross upon which Jesus died as our substitute.

Notice Jesus’ words in verses 19 and 20: “This is my body given for you … this cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you.” Jesus died on the cross for you. His body was given for you; his blood was shed for you. If your faith and trust are in Christ this morning, then your sins are forgiven. Jesus already paid the price for you at the cross, and you have been released from the penalty of sin.

   B. Reminder of Jesus’ death (Luke 22:19)

The Lord’s Supper is also a reminder to us of Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) Just as the Passover meal was designed as a re-enactment of God’s deliverance for Israel, so also the Lord’s Supper is designed as a reminder of Christ’s deliverance for us.

Just as the elements of the Passover meal have symbolic meaning, so the elements of the Lord’s Supper have symbolic meaning. The bread represents Christ’s body, broken and torn for us. The cup represents Jesus’ lifeblood which was poured out to death for us. The Lord’s Supper is a memorial meal where we remember Christ’s death for us on the cross.

And as we share this meal together, God is present at communion in a very special way through his Spirit and through his Son. The Lord’s Supper is our fellowship meal with God in the present, and it is a beautiful time of coming together as the body of Christ until the time when Christ returns.

III. The Wedding Supper of the Lamb – A Meal in the Future
      – Luke 22:16-18 / Revelation 19:6-9

Which brings us to the third meal with God: The Wedding Supper of the Lamb. The Passover is a meal from the past. The Lord’s Supper is a meal for the present. The Wedding Supper of the Lamb is a meal in the future.

Look at Luke 22 again, this time going back to verses 16 through 18. We passed over these verses before, but I want us to go back look at them now. Jesus said this concerning the Passover meal he shared with his disciples the night before he was crucified, “‘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.’” (Luke 22:16-18)

We already saw that the Passover meal in the Old Testament foreshadowed the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament. Now Jesus says that both the Passover and the Lord’s Supper find their ultimate fulfillment in the kingdom of God.

The Bible says it is the Wedding Supper of the Lamb that we celebrate. Remember, the Passover meal was a meal of lamb. The Lord’s Supper commemorates Jesus, our Passover lamb who was sacrificed for us. The Lord’s Supper is not only a memorial to Jesus’ death on the cross, but it also points forward to his return. And in doing so, it looks forward to an even greater meal – this Wedding Supper of the Lamb.

We read about the Wedding Supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19:

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready…. Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:6-9)

   A. Release from sadness (Revelation 19:7)

Just as the Passover meal signified a release from slavery, and the Lord’s Supper signifies a release from sin, so the Wedding Supper of the Lamb signifies a release from sadness.

A wedding is a time of rejoicing. Did you notice verse seven of Revelation 19? “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!” (Revelation 19:7) The Wedding Supper of the Lamb will be a time of rejoicing like no other.

We will have many reasons to rejoice. We will have been raised from the dead in our new resurrection bodies. We will have entered the beauty and perfection of heaven, our eternal home. We will be gathered with friends and family and loved ones from whom we had suffered separation because of death. But most of all, we will be in the presence of our great God and Father and our wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Wedding Supper of the Lamb marks the beginning of our new life in heaven, where there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain. We will be free from all the sorrows and sadness of this world. We will be free from the presence of sin and pain. We will be released from sadness into everlasting joy.

   B. Realization of God’s design (Revelation 21:3)

The Wedding Supper of the Lamb also marks the realization of God’s design. We said at the beginning of today’s message that it has always been God’s design to have fellowship with us, but sin brought about a separation from God and disrupted God’s design. The Wedding Supper of the Lamb marks the restoration and realization of God’s original design.

Revelation 21:3 says this about heaven: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

God’s desire and plan for perfect fellowship with man will find final fulfillment at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. The church will be the bride at this supper. And the church, as the Bride of Christ, will be dressed in white linen, a symbol of righteousness and purity before God. Forgiven, washed, cleansed and purified, there will be no more sin in the way, no more obstacles between us and God – just the beautiful, sweet communion of unbroken fellowship with God and Jesus.

Here, in the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, both the Passover and the Lord’s Supper, and all the meals ever shared, find their ultimate fulfillment. God and man will be restored to perfect fellowship together.

CONCLUSION: This morning we have the table of the Lord’s Supper before us. It is our meal with God for the present. It signifies a release from sin and serves as a reminder of Jesus’ death for us on the cross.

The Passover Meal is a meal from the past. It finds its fulfillment here at the Lord’s Table. But even as we share Communion together today, remember that this meal also is only a temporary meal.

For when Christ returns, the Lord’s Supper will give way to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, the glad and joyful gathering of God’s people with their great God and Savior: Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

© Ray Fowler

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