My dear Covenant Partners:
Jesus dies on the Cross: “After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit” (John 19: 28-30).
In the traditional Passover Meal, there were four times when wine was drunk from the cup. Drinking from the Fourth cup was a mere sip, indicating the end of the meal and the urgency to begin the Exodus toward the Promised Land. During the Passover Meal in the Upper Room, Jesus did not drink of the cup for the fourth time. At the Third drinking of the cup, Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you” (Luke 22:20). Jesus did not end the meal in the Upper Room in the established tradition which was to drink from the cup for the fourth time. Drinking from the cup for the fourth time could only be done if the Passover celebration was a sacrificial meal. In the traditional Passover Feast, the lamb was first sacrificed at the Temple in Jerusalem and then brought home to be eaten during the Passover meal. In the new Passover Feast where the new and eternal covenant is being instituted, the meal, who is Jesus the Lamb of sacrifice, is eaten in anticipation of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. During His agony in the garden, Jesus struggles to accept the drinking of the Fourth cup. His acceptance would signal his willingness to go to His sacrifice on the cross. At the end of His stay in the garden, Jesus accepts to drink of the cup and go to His crucifixion and death. On the cross, just before He dies, Jesus drinks of the cup for the fourth time. The Fourth cup was drunk with just a sip, as indicated earlier. The crucified Jesus takes a sip from the wine handed to Him on a sponge, and then exclaims, “It is finished.” The Passover Meal always ended when the head of the household proclaimed the words, “It is finished.” Thus, the new Passover Meal was begun in the Upper Room and ended on the Cross. In doing so, Jesus created a seamless connection between meal and sacrifice, between the Upper Room and Calvary. In the Exodus Passover Meal, the meal followed the sacrifice of the lamb. In the new Passover Meal, the meal anticipated the sacrifice of Jesus, our Lamb, on the cross! May you be blessed in God’s Embrace! You are in our daily prayers.