A close reading of Luke’s account [see after the jump] of the last supper reveals that Jesus and his table companions drank more than one cup of wine. Brant Pitre, in his new book, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper, sees the Lord’s Supper as a new Exodus, a new Passover, the Bread of Presence, and — today’s reflection — as extending all the way to the Cross where Jesus drank wine a final time.
Brant Pitre’s argument is this: there are four cups (kiddush, haggadah, berakah, hallel) in a Passover seder. Luke mentions cups two and three. When Jesus says he will not drink another cup of wine until he drinks it anew with them in the kingdom, he chose voluntarily not to drink the fourth cup — and that cup was hinted at in Gethsemane (“let this cup pass from me”) and then only on the cross both refused and then later consumed (from a sponge). Thus, “it is finished” means at least that the Passover seder is now officially over.
Pitre, assuming that the Passover Seder we know today was basically in force in the 1st Century, opens up a more concrete way of seeing the Last Supper, and in particular he shows how their singing of the hymn would have been from the hallel hymns (Psalms 113-118). These would have been evocative for Jesus as he contemplated his own death.
Pitre’s point about Jesus waiting to drink the 4th cup works on the assumption of the Passover Seder.
Passover then must be tied to the death of the Jesus on the cross. Jesus saw his own death in terms of the Passover sacrifice — he was the Passover lamb.
14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!”