Derek, Matt, and Alastair talk about the Lord’s Supper this week.
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Interesting detail about the group leaving the Upper Room at the end of 14. Sam Wells digs into this idea of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet as a parable of Jesus’ whole ministry. He takes “… loved them to the end” as a signal of this, then he leaves the heavenly table, divests himself of the trappings of his divinity by laying aside his garment, though Alastair’s point about Jesus wrapping himself in a linen towel just as he will shortly be in a linen cloth when he’s laid in the tomb really helps fill out the image.
Wells goes on to interpret this in terms of Jesus preparing the disciples to share in his death–which certainly fits a prominent theme all throughout this stretch of John’s Gospel. However, I’ve also heard this in terms of Jesus preparing them to share in the meal. I’ve also heard of this as Jesus preparing them to share the meal (which helps the foot washing to be more Eucharistic). But then could this also carry a sense of Jesus welcoming them to the table of his divinity? That he gives them power to becomes Sons of God?
The departure from the Upper Room, then, could itself carry the meaning of Jesus’s self-emptying in order that we might, as Alastair points out, be brought to share in the meal of the Lord’s glory and resurrection life.
Jesus’s statement along the lines that he won’t again drink the fruit of the vine until he drinks it new in the kingdom: David Bentley Hart suggests (in a fantastic chapter responding to Nietzsche in The Beauty of the Infinite) that wine is one of the great emblems of the goodness of creation, so that Jesus’s statement that he won’t again drink the fruit of the vine refers to his being stripped of the goods of creation in his death, before the gifts of creation are restored on Easter morning. Like Alastair pointed out, Isaiah figures the abolition of death as a feast, particularly a feast that features “well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear,” (Isaiah 25:6). Of course, this doesn’t seem to me to conflict with the backdrops that Alastair sees the statement as having, such as the vow made before a battle, etc.