Dear Friends, beloved of the Lord,
Jesus says, in Luke 22:15, “ I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you.” But actually, what Jesus says literally is—“with desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you,” or you could put it even more radically this way, “craving I have craved to eat this Passover” or even “with lust I have lusted to eat this Passover with you.” In many places in both the greek and hebrew these words are interchangeable. In fact, the word that Jesus uses here is the same used in the command “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”
Today I went online and looked up craving in a handbook used by doctors called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness, the DMV-5. I googled the word “craving” and I noticed that this books so important to doctors today, definitely “throws shade” on craving. Craving is in the shadow, cast in a bad light.
Not so in the Bible. Craving, lusting, coveting…these are actually positive things in the Bible. Jesus craves. Craving isn’t bad, it’s good, it’s only WHAT you crave, the OBJECT of desire that makes it bad.
Remember those three American soldiers on leave in France who thwarted that terrible attack? Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos. Spencer Stone was napping on board the train, he was awakened by his friend Alek’s hand on his soldier, a man was coming down the train aisle with an AK-47. The three were able to tackle the pin down the would be murderer and disarm him.
And the reason? As Spencer Stone said, “we wanted to survive, we wanted our friends to live, the people on the train to live.” This is an example of wonderful desire, a wonderful craving, a lust that propelled these three men into instant action.
There are some philosophies that say that the thing is to avoid, immoderate desires, as long as you don’t desire anything too much you avoid sin. The Bible disagrees. It says go ahead and desire, covet, lust after something immoderately!
Jesus desires to eat the Passover feast with his friends immoderately!
The Bible tells us that the devil lusts after murder, that’s bad but the lust is not. A man is not to lust after his neighbor’s wife, not because desire, even immoderate desire is bad but because of the object of that desire, wanting to take away maybe the only good thing that a guy has going in this world other than the Lord, his wife.
I have a confession, well, it’s really not a confession in the usual sense. I love second hand smoke. Farhad (my husband) loves it too. Now we don’t smoke but we really really love the smell of cigarette smoke especially on cold winter days. There is nothing wrong with this. There is nothing wrong with craving cigarette smoke, what’s wrong is when we abuse tobacco, when we use it to comfort ourselves but as the Lakota and other native tribes knew, tobacco is a sacred plant. There is nothing wrong with desiring to share perhaps the peace pipe, to seal the peace in this way. We would be right to earnestly crave this!
Part 2, Back to Our Text
What does Jesus crave so greatly? He craves the Passover. Why? Because the food is awesome! Of course, there's more to it but let's pause here just to say: There is nothing wrong with craving a good meal with your friends! In other part of the Bible the sons of God, yes, "the sons of God" crave the meat of the festival, nothing wrong with craving a good hamburger or any number of yummy things. This is a positive in the Bible!
But let’s go deeper.
What is Passover? Answer: It’s a remembrance; it’s remembering the Lord and who he is.
Exodus 13: 3 —Moses said to the people, "Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the LORD brought you out from this place. And nothing leavened shall be eaten.
Think of what it means to remember, to know the Lord…who he is, so different than what we might imagine. Think of the gods of death in Egypt, the gods of the old religions, gods who hate us, to whom we are annoyances… but that’s not God, the one God, the one who loves us, and he is faithful, and he enfaiths his Messiah. Our God is not like all these others. And he gives good gifts to his children
—-the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control
That’s what is at stake here, this is what Jesus covets. He covets, he craves that the knowledge of God would cover the earth as the waters cover the seas. Jesus craves love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness..and a good meal too!— good food, friendship, amity, brotherly love.
Part 3, one more thing…
In our passage today Jesus says, “This is my body” As Markus Barth pointed out, Jesus is answering the question traditionally posed by one of the children in the family at Passover.
That child might lift up the unleavened bread and ask, “What is this?” “What is the meaning of this non-fluffy bread!” And the father would answer (and here of course I am paraphrasing quite freely) “Well Son, we left in haste, God did this thing so quickly, God freed us with an upraised right arm, and so on that night was no time to ferment, to leaven, the bread. This is the meaning, my son.” To shorten it down to it’s essence, the boy asks, “What is this?” and the Papa replies: “This is the Exodus”
Jesus too answers this unstated question, but in a new way. He says “This is my body.” In other words, “What is the meaning of this?” And Jesus answering as a teacher replies, “This is the Exodus, not the Exodus out of Egypt but rather, the Exodus at Jerusalem.” The way out, the greater Exodus is his dead body “hanging on a tree”; it is us dying to sin. The great Exodus at Jerusalem is the way out for both Jews and Gentiles. It is him carrying away our sins, it’s him defeating death. When we celebrate communion we are remembering all these things. We are remembering the eternal covenant of Isaiah 55 and 53, the gift of faith, “the just my slave, will make many just.”
“With craving he has craved the Passover, " As Isaiah 26 tells us:
"Yes Lord, in the path of your judgments we waited you for your name and for your remembrance is the desire the lust of our soul with my soul I crave for you in the night yes with my spirit with me I diligently seek you for when you judgment are in the earth the inhabitants of the earth learn what is right to to make the wrong right."
Today as I went to Stillwater, I listened to MPR. The guest, the author of The Sixth Extinction was sighing over the death of the bees, so many birds, frogs…as well she might. Many sighs, tears and work are in order. The host, Kerry Miller, talked about all the creatures that had gone extinct, creatures that she had never seen and would never see…whole species... “winking out.” But I would like to add something… there are whole peoples that are "winking out." Governments have destroyed people groups off the face of the earth. The very builders of America, the descendants of slaves are not reproducing themselves. You need an average of two children to reproduce yourself but black people, those who built America with their sweat and tears and blood are “winking out.” And not just this, the honor and dignity, the last remnants of the freedom of man, all these things are winking out all over the earth.
And yet, we do not despair. Far from it! The good news is, this “winking out” of the light has no future, death has no future. Jesus is our "bully boy" as they used to say (like in the 1890's!)...remember those photos of Winston Churchill, sticking out his lower lip, determined and stubborn, “never surrender!” Our king of kings...he sticks out his lower lip. He is alive and he desires the passover. He craves all that is right; he craves with an immoderate, over the top craving, life, freedom, joy peace… and he will get it. It is a done deal. And so, in Jesus, life is our inheritance. We have got it in the bag. The right— the righting of all that is so wrong is our inheritance, the knowledge of the Lord and his remembrance is our possession in the Lord Jesus...he is our friend and our savior... Holy God.
So we look to Jesus and we desire, we DESIRE, the knowledge of the Lord, we DESIRE and CRAVE hamburgers, feasts, the full meal communion, the little meal communion; we covet life! —and you know what? One more thing. We will fight for it.
We will fight them on the beaches, the hills, the fields, we will never surrender, to quote that other bully boy, Winston…and even if we are thrown back that just makes the glory greater…and we will continue, we will keep on..and we will be saved,
because the forces of THE new world, the world that is from heaven but FOR this earth will come to our aid, “heaven will reel and rock” and God will come down (to quote the Psalm) Yes, He and all His angels, He will come and save us at just the right time. Friends, the day is ours!, because the day star is ours. Even now we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.