Communion Meditation: Jesus Gave Thanks

Supper1

(Luk 22:17-20 ESV) 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Did you notice? I didn’t. Not the first thousand times I read this passage. But a friend made a point about this passage that I’d never noticed before: Jesus gave thanks.

Now, the Gospels are carefully written books. They only include details that matter. Why does it matter that Jesus gave thanks? To show that he, like all good Jews, prayed before eating?

No, I think the meaning is deeper. A lot deeper. You see, Jesus gave thanks for what he was about to drink and what he was about to eat — his own death. His own sacrifice.

I don’t know about you, but I give thanks for what I like. And I like a good meal. I don’t think that if I was about to be hung on a cross that I’d be in a very thankful mood. I can imagine being willing — but that’s the limit of my imagination. I can’t even imagine being grateful.

Why was Jesus grateful for his own crucifixion? Well, it did it voluntarily because it was necessary for our good, for us to enter the Kingdom, for us to be forgiven. Jesus figured it was worth it.

And the New Testament teaches that we’ve been saved to become like Jesus.

(Eph 5:1-2 ESV) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

We are saved to walk in love for each other, to be sacrifices for each other, and ultimately to be grateful that God has given us the opportunity to sacrifice for each other and for all who are in need.

This is no easy thing. It wasn’t even easy for Jesus, but he did it. And he’s our example.

As we take this bread, let’s recall not only the sacrificed body of Jesus, but that he gave thanks for this sacrifice, knowing that it would led to the salvation of millions who would also sacrifice themselves for others — gratefully.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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31 Responses to Communion Meditation: Jesus Gave Thanks

  1. Hank says:

    Not to be contrary, but his “giving thanks” was what he did before passing out and/or eating any meal.

    Matthew 15:32, 36 ESV
    Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.

    And

    John 6:11 ESV
    Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted.

    Therefore, interpreting his “giving thanks” to mean he was thankful for being sacrificed may be a bit “icey”. Remember, he prayed for an alternative. And why would he pray to avoid something for which he was thankful?

    Now, he was thankful for what enduring the cross would mean (what it would accomplish) – Hebrews 12:2 ESV – looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

    Nevertheless, the cross itself was a time of shame and guilt and punishment from God and I don’t really see Jesus thankful for any of that. Again, he prayed for a way out.

    But, he did endure it since it was the Father’s will. And because he loves lost sinners.

    At least, that’s my take…

  2. I agree with Hank. Jesus gave thanks for the food, and I think that was an amazing thing. He could have called ten thousand chefs at any time to prepare all the cattle on the hills, yet He gave thanks for simple and spartan food. A model of service and humility.

    And this is all opinions about something that (I believe) is not essential for salvation. Hence, if we disagree that is fine.

  3. Matt Dabbs says:

    Back up a bit and check the context on these verses in Luke. Here is what Jesus said at the beginning of the meal,

    “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.”

    So Jesus said he has been eager to take it before he suffers. Sounds like Jay is on the right track. Then he says why he can be eager in the face of suffering…he knows what his suffering opens the door to.

    Now Jesus did pray that God let the cup to pass but Jesus also said,

    23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

    27 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
    – John 12:23-28

    Jesus is predicting his death. He says that it is because of what his death will produce that even though his heart is troubled by how tough this is going to be he is going to do it anyway and bring God glory through it and give life to many.

    In 12:27-28 you find the balance…Jesus was fully human and fully divine. He knew how awful it was all going to be and yet ultimately Jesus embraced it because it was God’s will.

    I wrote something a while back very much in line with Jay’s initial post – http://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/giving-thanks-in-the-most-difficult-circumstances/

  4. Hank says:

    I see what you’re saying Matt (and Jay), my only point is that it IS speculation to argue that “it is a fact that Jesus was grateful for his upcoming crucifixion and that that is what he was referring to when he ‘gave thanks’ during the eating of the last supper. And that he was not refering to the actual food as was his habit”. We might wonder if, he had in mind the actual crucifiction, but we certainly can not say for sure.

    Too, we still have Jesus (even in Lukes account) praying in agony/begging God to find another (any other) way, and it just seems hard to believe that Jesus was grateful for and had given thanks for his upcoming crucifixion and then immediately pleads in bloody sweat for God to not let it happen.

    Of course, his meat was to always do whatever pleased the Father, but he definately wished God could find something else (other than the cross) in which to be pleased.

    Just my thoughts. And while its an interesting question, of course, this is one of those things where IMO we can see it differently and still respect the views of the other.

    Good thoughts though….

  5. laymond says:

    I am in agreement with Hank—I know I should stop there but you know I won’t.

    I see this as just another attempt of the progressives to take the Glory from the Father, and place it with the Son.

    See I told you I should stop.

  6. Matt Dabbs says:

    Hank,

    It really could be either one. You pasted in the verses that showed Jesus regularly gave thanks for food. So it is possible that is all that is happening here. A third alternative that hasn’t been mentioned here is that is what you did at passover. You gave a blessing over the bread and the wine that recognized it all came from God. So maybe it was just part of the ritual and that is why he did it.

    Laymond,

    I guess you missed the John 12 verses I quoted above where Jesus directly connects his sacrifice with giving God glory and that the whole reason I was saying Jesus could well be thanking God for what he is about to endure is because it brings God glory.

  7. Laymond,

    Further to what Matt said, Ephesians 3:21 says, “Now to him [the Father] be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Also, John 3:22-23 reads,

    The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

    You cannot honor the Father without giving equal honor to the Son. The superior honor of the Father is given in Christ and His submission to the will of the Father.

    As far as Jesus praying in Gethsemane that he be spared from death, Edward Fudge makes a strong case in HEBREWS: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today, pp. 93-95 that Jesus’ prayer in the garden was that God deliver Him “out of death” not that he be spared from dying. The Gethsemane prayer, Fudge says, was for resurrection, not that the cross be bypassed. I’m not totally sure he is right – but I lean toward that understanding.

    Jerry

  8. Hank says:

    “The Gethsemane prayer, Fudge says, was for resurrection, not that the cross be bypassed. I’m not totally sure he is right – but I lean toward that understanding.”

    Does that imply that the Lord did not know (or forgot) about the fact that he was to be raised upon the 3rd day? And what about all of his teaching regarding the same? I’m confused. Do you (and Fudge) believe that Jesus was under the impression that after the crucifixion…he would NOT be resurrected???

  9. Hank,
    The battle was not over until after the resurrection. We, being human, think in terms of the defeat of Satan being at the death of Jesus; in reality, it was in His resurrection. Essentially, under this view, the prayer was, “Father, do not forsake me to the grave; bring me forth.” Hebrews 5:7 says that he was heard “because of his reverence.” The next verse says, “Though he was a Son, he learned obedience by the things he suffered.” His obedience was not complete until He suffered.

    Hebrews 7:10 states that Jesus “became a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.”

    His resurrection was for far more than to give evidence He is indeed the Son of God. “He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). We are born again “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3), and baptism saves us “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).

    Yet, we tend to use the resurrection merely as evidence Jesus is who He said He is.

    Jerry

  10. hank says:

    Jerry, oh, I see. I just don’t believe that Jesus ever had it in his mind that he would be left in the grave, never to be resurrected. While I agree with all that you wrote about the significance of the resurrection, Jesus taught too much about his upcoming resurrection to forget about that part of the plan in the garden. IMO….

    Either way, there is no proof that Jesus had anything other than supper when he “gave thanks” (not that you were even making that argument).

    But, yeah, I had never heard of the idea that Jesus was praying for God not to just leave him abandoned in the grave..

  11. laymond says:

    Jerry said “The Gethsemane prayer, Fudge says, was for resurrection, not that the cross be bypassed. I’m not totally sure he is right – but I lean toward that understanding.”

    Mat 20:22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.

    Mat 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou [wilt].
    Mat 26:42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

    Jerry if you still have trouble deciding what Jesus was talking about, I will look for more clarification.

  12. laymond says:

    Jay said, “Did you notice? I didn’t. Not the first thousand times I read this passage. But a friend made a point about this passage that I’d never noticed before: Jesus gave thanks.”

    Jay I have no doubt, that if it had been uncommon for Jesus to give thanks before eating, you would have noticed.

    We can walk down the same road all our life and never notice the common things along the way, but if something is out of place we notice. No saying “thanks” was not out of place for Jesus.

  13. Matt Dabbs says:

    Here are a couple more reasons why I think Jesus was actually giving thanks for what he was about to go through:
    1 – he “eagerly” awaited that meal with them.
    2 – That meal was not just a Passover meal or a meal on a hillside with 5000. This was the Last Supper where Jesus gave the bread and wine new meaning. I am assuming he already knew he was going to do that before he “gave thanks” so I can assume what he was giving thanks for…the newly recast bread and wine…he was giving thanks for more than just the tiny degree of sustenance they were able to give.
    3 – That means he was giving thanks for bread that represented his broken body and the wine that represented his spilt blood.
    4 – This is not the only place in scripture where we are told to have joy/thankfulness in the face of suffering (James 1:2f, Rom 8, 2 Cor 1, Phil 3:10, 1 Peter 4:13). So Jesus being thankful at this point is in line with many other scriptures and is a point God wants us to learn as well. Maybe we just didn’t connect this verse with a lesson/point we already knew was in scripture.

    Let me change course just a bit here. I think we are getting hung up here because we are just pulling out little bits and pieces of the picture and then people raise legitimate objections to those individualized pieces. If you read this whole story and all that the meal represented Jesus has much to give thanks for that the bread and wine are just a part of. The bread and wine, Jesus’ body and blood, are active in initiating a new covenant between God and His people that will culminate with Jesus taking this supper again with them in God’s kingdom. So there is much to give thanks for at this meal…Jesus has been waiting for this for thousands of years. Maybe that is why he has been so eager to take it with them! But I don’t think the thankfulness was solely about the bread and solely about the wine. I think it was about how those things led to God’s intended purpose. So in summary…I think we have missed the part about thanksgiving in spite of suffering and how we can learn from Jesus through these verses Jay started with in this post but I think it is more than that and until you see the big picture it is hard to understand why Jesus would be so thankful in such a circumstance.

  14. Hank says:

    “I think we have missed the part about thanksgiving in spite of suffering and how we can learn from Jesus through these verses Jay started with in this post but I think it is more than that and until you see the big picture it is hard to understand why Jesus would be so thankful in such a circumstance.”

    It is still speculation to argue that because Jesus “gave thanks” while eating the passover meal, that he was therefore thankful to be headed for the cross. Especially since he immediately went out and begged God to find a way for him to avoid as much. There is no way to prove that when Jesus “gave thanks” during that last supper, that it was any different than what he did or meant during the previous years passover. The “thanks” could very well have been in reference to the meal itself. We just can’t know without asking him. But, and again, he did go right out and pray not to be crucified (according to virtually all commentators).

    Too, I don’t necessarily believe that the Bible teaches for us to be thankful for each and every thing that happens in life. Yes, we are to alwarys rejoice. And yes, we are always to be thankful – but I don’t think that we are to rejoice and be thankful for EVERY THING. Certainly, we are to pray for certain things not to happen.

    Just try to think of one thing (in the Bible or not), where there is a potential (or even apparently certain) upcoming event for which one is thankful…where it would make sense for the same one to pray it never happens?

    Can you be thankful for something you wish did not exist? I don’t know….

  15. hank says:

    I should add that I know that Jesus was thankful to glorify the Father and reconcile man….I just believe that at the end, he was wishing (and praying on his face) that he could do all of that without the cross. Clearly, he wanted an alternative.

  16. Matt Dabbs says:

    Hank,

    A couple of thoughts here…

    I agree it is speculation. But it is still interesting to consider! What did he give thanks for? The bread and the wine. What did those represent? His body and his blood. Do you think he gave thanks for the lesser meaning…food and drink or for the more complete meaning…that he was reconciling mankind to God through those things? I think it is more significant, not less, that he would be referencing himself in that prayer rather than just being thankful for the food. That’s just 100% my opinion and I get what you are saying. To me it just makes the text even more meaningful but I could be wrong.

    The Garden of Gethsemane keeps coming up. How do you reconcile John 12:27,

    27 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.

    with Luke 22:42,

    “42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

    Maybe this points to the humanity of Jesus. In one verse he is saying he wouldn’t question it…then he does? If that is true, which seems to be where this discussion is headed then it doesn’t seem far fetched to say in one moment he could be thanking God for the broken bread/body and spilt juice/blood and then a few verses later pray that prayer. Make sense?

  17. laymond says:

    Matt said, “Here are a couple more reasons why I think Jesus was actually giving thanks for what he was about to go through:”

    This is getting to be the weirdest conversation ever on this blog, and that is going some.

    Maybe Jesus was giving thanks for all the sin and sinners, because without them, there would be no need for what he was about to go through. But I seem to remember Paul saying, God forbid.

  18. Hank says:

    Matt,

    It makes perfect sense, and you may be right. And while I may be being too tehnical, I only wanted to point out that as possible as it may be…we really don’t know for sure. IOW, had Jay written, “Jesus MAY have had in mind the cross…” there would’ve been nothing to disagree with.

    But, as it was written, it makes it seem as though it is a fact.

  19. Matt Dabbs says:

    Laymond,

    I will try my best to avoid sarcasm because when people get sarcastic it makes them seem very small and I don’t want to come across that way. That is especially true when they are sarcastic over and over again…it just gets old.

    It is not like joy in suffering is foreign to the Bible. There are tons of scriptures on how to deal with suffering and Jay’s interpretation falls right in line with them. Wouldn’t it make sense that Jesus would follow these same principles we are taught to follow from verses like these – James 1:2f, Rom 8, 2 Cor 1, Phil 3:10, 1 Peter 4:13? So it is not off base in light of the rest of the NT teachings on the same subject.

    So let me ask you…why was Jesus so eager to eat this meal with them (22:15)? Was he just super hungry or was it because it was so very meaningful. Could that overarching meaning have impacted the way he viewed the bread and the wine?

    Also, why do you give thanks when you take the supper? Do you give thanks for the bread and wine? When you do is it just for the physical bread and wine or is it for Jesus’ body and blood? I am certain it is the second. So we are to do that but Jesus certainly couldn’t have done that too?

  20. Matt Dabbs says:

    Hank…I completely agree that we don’t know this for sure. There is no verse that explains all of this for us. It is an interpretation and it is open for criticism.

  21. Alabama John says:

    Jesus TOOK the loaves and fishes from the boy and gave thanks.

    If I hadn’t eaten in three days and Jesus or anyone else took my meager food, I would at least expect a thank you!

    This might just be as simple as that.

  22. laymond says:

    Matt said, “I think Jesus was actually giving thanks for what he was about to go through:”

    Matt, Did he change his mind again when he said this?

    Mat 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

    Or is this another cry for God not to leave him in the grave.

  23. Matt Dabbs says:

    So Laymond…I asked Hank this and I would like your take too.

    How do you reconcile John 12:27,

    27 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.

    with Luke 22:42,

    “42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

    Also, read Psalm 22 and see how it turns out. The result of Psalm 22 is actually the opposite of what many people say happened to Jesus on the cross (See 22:24 especially). See also Acts 2:27 & Psalm 16:8-11.

    I think there is more than meets the eye with Jesus referencing Psalm 22:1. That is not out of practice for Jesus as there are other times he quotes one line of a psalm but means more than just that line. That was common practice. See John 2:17 for another example of that. Also see this post – http://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/2007/09/18/did-god-forsake-jesus-on-the-cross/

    Hope that helps.

  24. Johnny says:

    Mat 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

    Jesus was quoting from Psalms 22, which any good Jew knew is a Messianic reference, which includes toward the end this :

    For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
    he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

    IMHO God never turned his face or forsook him. A case of not understanding the Old Testament reference when interpreting the New Testament

  25. Certainly something as traumatic as Jesus was going through with as momentous results has plenty of room for human emotion. And we must remember that Jesus suffered as a man. He was a perfect man – but he was a man.

    Thankfulness for the remission of sins for all who come to him, as Jay suggested? Certainly! Anxiety for the physical suffering that was coming to him? Of course! Concern for the faithfulness of the disciples who were also about to be tested in ways they never imagined? Naturally. Despair when it (at least seemed) that God had forsaken him? Yes, that too.

    We have a tendency to forget the humanity of Jesus, especially in his times of temptation and distress. Let’s not forget that he was truly Man. If we remember that, much of this conversation falls into place because the emotions are varied in the same person at different times – as different aspects of a situation come into play.

  26. laymond says:

    Matt Dabbs, on September 8th, 2011 at 4:39 pm Said:

    So Laymond…I asked Hank this and I would like your take too.

    How do you reconcile—– Well Matt I don’t see it as my Job to reconcile, You might have me mixed up with one who declares the bible to be fully the inerrant word of God. And I can’t see it that way. Why because there are so many things that are irreconcilable. Along with what Luke said about his writings, being influenced by the words of those who were present with Jesus. So all I can do is report on what I read, and the way I understand it.

  27. laymond says:

    Done and moved 🙂

  28. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Matt,

    Thanks for pointing out that you wrote a similar post earlier. Today’s post is a rewrite of the meditation I posted at http://oneinjesus.info/2011/08/communion-meditation-on-being-thankful-for-what-makes-me-happy/ where I mentioned your earlier post as the source of the idea. (I mentioned you to my congregation Sunday when I gave this meditation, too.) I should have thought to repeat the citation here.

  29. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    All,

    Regarding Jesus’ quotation of Psa 22 on the cross, it has been customary from ancient times for devout Jews to quote this psalm immediately before death. The practice may well go back to the time of Jesus.

    As is so often the case, on Jesus’ lips, the Psalm has multiple possible meanings, with more than one being intended by the author. Easterners love double and triple meanings! We Westerners want to treat text as law with one and only one correct meaning.

    1. Jesus was announcing that he anticipated imminent death and was dying in the way devout Jews died.

    2. Jesus felt forsaken. He truly felt as David felt as he penned the beginning of the Psalm.

    3. But as Matt points out, rabbis often cite a part of a passage to refer to the larger, unquoted text, much as we would say “Judge not” to refer to first few verses of Matt 7.

    The text speaks of feeling forsaken but that God nonetheless rescues the psalmist.

    4. As Johnny said, there’s a messianic interpretation, and Jesus was claiming to be the fulfillment of the Psalm as prophecy.

    I think each interpretation is right and all are intended.

  30. Matt Dabbs says:

    Jay,

    Thanks for mentioning that. I really wasn’t looking for credit for the idea…the only reason I brought it up was because I thought it was neat that someone else thought about this as well and came to a similar conclusion.

    I just want to say thanks for all you do here. You are appreciated and even those who disagree with you on these things at least, hopefully, have to analyze their own position, study God’s Word, and come to a conclusion. Those are good things. You don’t have to spend so much time sharing your thoughts, useful information, and providing a forum for this type of discussion but you do anyway. Thanks again.

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