What did Jesus mean that the passover would be fulfilled in the kingdom of God? “I shall not eat it until it (the passover) is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” [Luke 22:16]
I thought the passover was fulfilled in the death of Jesus our final passover lamb. Remember the passover was the yearly celebration of the time in Egypt when God sent an angel of death who passed over homes where blood from a slain lamb was on the door post. It was a celebration of past deliverance from Egypt and of future deliverance when Messiah comes.
In 1 Corinthians 5:7 Paul calls Christ our Passover Lamb. In other words God will save anyone from judgment who banks his hope on the blood of Jesus. So I thought the passover was fulfilled at Calvary when the Lamb of God was slain to deliver us from death.
But in verse 16 Jesus says the passover will be fulfilled in the kingdom. What does he mean? Just like last week, John’s glimpse of the kingdom gives the answer. In Revelation 5:9–10 John says that the 24 elders sang to Christ the Lamb, “Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom.”
A Ransom from Every Tribe and Tongue and Nation
Here’s the key. Jesus the Passover Lamb was slain to ransom people from every tribe and tongue and nation. So the Passover can’t be fulfilled until all those peoples are reached and the ransomed are gathered in and the kingdom is established.
I have been moved afresh by this picture of Jesus on the night before his death setting before himself the joy of his coming kingdom, telling his disciples that what he is signifying tonight in the meal and accomplishing tomorrow on the cross will one day be fulfilled in the kingdom—a kingdom of people ransomed from every tongue and tribe and people and nation. Then he adds this: I’m not going to eat it till that day comes. You eat it to remember me and keep your hope strong and empower yourselves for mission. But I am going to wait until I can eat it new with you and with all the ransomed that you will gather from every tongue and tribe and people and nation.