Groaning for Jesus’ Love
When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:14-16 NKJV)
Jesus says in these verses that with “fervent desire” He desired to eat this meal with His disciples. He means to say that He longs to have this fellowship. We might even say that He groans or weeps to have this intimate time with His friends.
In German, the day on which Christ celebrated the Last Supper is called “Gründonnerstag” or in modern German literally written “Green Thursday.” The translation is not to be confused with “Maundy Thursday”, although they both refer to the same event. While Maundy Thursday emphasized the love of Christ for us as a new mandate (see my previous post) , “Gründonnerstag” emphasizes the emotional struggle that Jesus went through because He loves us.
While there are a variety of explanations for this “Gründonnerstag”, it probably comes from the “fervent desire” that Jesus expressed in Luke 22. The “grün” in “Gründonnerstag” today comes from traditions that may have come from the last supper. These traditions can be seen mostly in food that is eaten on Maundy Thursday. “Grün” probably does not refer to “green” as the modern German defines it, but more precisely the older German word “grinan”, which means to whine, wail, or groan.
If this is the case, then “Gründonnerstag” should be a day in which we groan for Jesus’ love. Jesus groaned with love for His disciples. This week, and especially this meal was very special to Him. He so wanted to meet with His disciples one last time before He died, that He groaned and wailed about it. Jesus came to this last supper with mixed emotions. Jesus was happy to spend one last evening with his closest friends. Yet, He was sad about the fact that He would be betrayed by one of them (Judas). Jesus was happy to enjoy the company of all of His disciples. Yet, Jesus was sad that one friend would leave need Him during the most difficult time of Jesus’ life (Peter). Jesus was happy that He would see them again, but sad that He would have to die on a cross first.
So Jesus Christ experienced these mixed emotions during this last meal. He expressed His love for His friends at the last supper, and He also groaned in His love for us as His disciples. We too can express our love to Jesus in worship, in “groans that no words can express” (Romans 8:26).