In Luke 22:15 we read “And he said, I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you…” Jesus is telling his disciples, and us by his Word, I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you. The language our Lord uses is strong “How I have longed to eat this Passover with you…” or as other translators put it “with fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you.” The Son of God desires, longs, is passionate for this — not only to “eat this Passover,” but to do so “with you.”
The language of these words of Christ, in their setting at the last supper, brings John 13:1 to mind: “Jesus, knowing that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own, He loved them to the end.” Jesus knew what His death, within a matter of hours, would do for them, and for the millions to come who would make up the completion of His church. He loved the disciples, he loved then already and continues to love each one who trusts him as Savior and Lord (John 17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…”). By his Word, which “remains forever” (1 Peter 1:25) he tells us again he earnestly, eagerly desires fellowship, communion with his people.
It is a stunning reality that he earnestly desires this, especially when we know the disciples, and understand ourselves. They would soon be arguing over who was the greatest. They would soon be sleeping through his sufferings. They would in sin and weakness abandon Him.
Do you painfully feel your similarity to His sinful disciples? He wants your fellowship! His Word shows over and over, he calls, invites, asks you “come to me”: in fact he welcomes everyone who hears his gospel to come to Him in faith and repentance, to come, be forgiven, saved, reconciled to God, and then to come to fellowship with him, to come and join him and his disciples. The earnest desire of Christ shows his strong love: he is the LORD, the Strength, the Redeemer of his people.
Jesus’ earnest desire, his strong love is made all the more clear as he reveals his earnest plan. Jesus tells his disciples that his earnest desire to be with them for this Passover meal is because of its timing, because of what’s soon coming: his suffering to death, his great self-sacrifice for their salvation. I want to eat this supper with you “…before I suffer.” Jesus, as the God-man, God incarnate, knew this time of fellowship, this time of spiritual remembrance and anticipation at this Passover was the prologue to His sufferings. This is part of why He earnestly desired it: what was happening here in the upper room was a crucial part of the work he was completing for his Father’s glory, for man’s redemption. He had joy, he was glad to do God’s will for Him as Mediator.
The willingness of Jesus, His earnest desire to pursue and complete what was necessary for His disciples’ and for the salvation of sinners is astounding and glorious. He was willing to be our Redeemer, to walk steadily towards, to go through His sufferings for us. He was not forced, he was not compelled. He freely pursued to the finish the payment of the elect’s debt. Psalm 40:7-8 declares ‘Then I said, ‘Behold I have come to do your will, O my God; in the scroll of the book it is written of Me: I desire to do your will, O my God.’
It is as if Jesus had said, ‘Father I see no one else is able to pay the debt of these poor bankrupts, the entire sacrificial system, all its priests, sacrifices, ceremonies, have not been able to pay a penny of the elect’s debt to this point; it’s still all owing. I will be surety, I will be the guarantor, I will do the work effectively, perfectly, completely… When the time came to pay the debt, when he came to the agonizing, deadly climax of his mission – did he try to back out? No he is willing to pay the elect’s debt owed to God as known by God. The Word of God declares this to us over and over: I have come to do your will, O my God… Father the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you… For their sake I consecrate myself… With desire, Jesus says, I have desired to eat this Passover, because I know that now the time for payment, the payment of that infinite terrible fearsome just crushing wrath, which I alone can atone for, as the Son of God, that payment which I have longed for, has come.
This is why He later said to Peter, “hold the sword, the cup that my Father has given, I will drink it.” Why did Jesus do this? Why did he pursue suffering and death to make salvation available for you to receive freely by faith alone?
His earnest desire, his steadfast pursuit of this plan, shine his free, amazing love for his Father and his people as his only motive. What a Savior, what a King!