Going away parties are terribly under-rated.  They serve a purpose so much bigger than we understand.  In many ways we have them built into our culture–graduations, weddings, parties at work when someone leaves, a going away party for a friend when someone moves.  They help us grieve and say good-bye.  This being around friends and those we love gives us courage for the next things.  Just think of the military men and women and how important a good-bye is for them to infuse courage for their mission.

Getting together, just one more time.

Jesus needed this feeling of “one more time” too.  He knew he was going to face a certain death and before he did, he longed to be with his friends.  To enjoy their quirks, to hear their laughter and to be together…just one more time.

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”

He knew his suffering was near and knew he was going to die.  His disciples never really got it.  They never understand that this really was their last time together (on this side of heaven).  It would never be the same.  And how true it is that it is often so much more real for the one leaving than those who are sending.  But Jesus doesn’t think of this.  He thinks of how much he loves his friends.  This will be his courage.  This will be “the joy set before him.”

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you…”

To commemorate this last time Jesus empowers a continuous reminder of this separation.  He from here on will not eat of the bread or drink of the wine until he dines with them again in the kingdom of God.  He asks us to drink and eat to remember, but he himself doesn’t drink or eat to save himself.  He will not celebrate this feast again until he can do so with those he loves.  He saves himself this pleasure until the time when his joy will not be contained when we are united again.

But for now, there is a mission to serve.  There’s a cross to endure.  He will miss his friends.  And knowing that their togetherness is his encouragement, he sends his disciples out to prepare.  To prepare so that they can be together

just one more time.