Feb. 27, 2012
Luke 22: 14-18
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.”
Try to imagine being one of Jesus disciples gathered for this Passover meal. Ever since your group arrived in Jerusalem the previous Sunday, there has been great tension. Well, at first, people were so excited to see Jesus and actually threw an impromptu parade for him.
But since then, it’s been more than a bit dicey. It didn’t help when Jesus went to the Temple. Even though he’d been to the Temple a thousand times before, something snapped this time. He’d overturned the merchant’s tables, upset the money changers tables and created quite a spectacle. It was Passover week; a week they were guaranteed to make a lot of money! Now, they had to quickly find a spot outside of theTempleto set up shop.
The things Jesus has been saying has everyone concerned, confused and well, just a little more than on edge. His words are, at times, downright scary. As a disciple, you signed up to be a part of a movement that would positively change people’s lives. Even you are wondering how much of this you should or must put up with. It is time to cut bait? But it seems Jesus really is the Messiah.
You were optimistic that this Passover meal would be a refreshing break from the tension, the anger, the uncertainty. But Jesus’ words are even stranger tonight, if that is possible. Why, who would say they are never going to drink again … until God’s kingdom comes?
In John’s gospel, Jesus is even more particular in what he says in relationship to the fruit of the vine. At the Last Supper, Jesus tells the disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” How can Jesus be the “true vine?” If so, where is the fruit?
Soon, I’ll wander out to our garden and prune our grape vines. I have little experience in growing grapes, other than trial and error. But I have learned this. A healthy spring trim of the vines means better grapes at harvest. The idea is that in trimming, a significant amount of branches are removed. This forces the nutrients to go into producing higher quality grapes than supporting a bunch of unwieldy vines.
Once again, Jesus is speaking in metaphorical terms. His life is going to soon be severely pruned. But in doing so, great fruit will be made available to all human kind. When Jesus recognizes his Father as the gardener, he’s acknowledging that God is doing the pruning. God is allowing the greatest pruning ever … the loss of life … to happen. But in doing so, much fruit – many lives – will be redeemed forever.
The best fruit comes when extra branches are removed. Few of us like it when we’re “pruned;” when a loved one dies, we loose a job, a family health concern arises or we experience financial challenges. Imagine Jesus thinking that his pruning would not be necessary. All of eternity would have been changed.
Jesus’ words and actions can often be confusing for us. They don’t always make sense. Sometimes, they can be downright scary. I pray this time of Lent will allow us moments of his peace.
Let us pray: We gather here in Jesus’ name, his love is burning in our hearts like living flame; for through the loving Son the Father makes us one: Come, take the bread; come, drink the wine; come share the Lord. Amen.