Updated: Jun 24, 2021
Have you ever been confused by Jesus' last words while on the cross? As we know, the last words He spoke before His Resurrection were, "It is finished." I've always wondered why He said that. Shortly beforehand, He said, "Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit." I've always found that line much more moving and final, so what gives?
I'll admit that this confused (and even bugged) me up until about a month ago, when I read "Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist" by Brant Pitre. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and this short write-up will be an incredibly brief summary of one of its major points, so do your spiritual life and your relationship with the Eucharist a favor and read it!
In the book, Pitre explains how Christ's entire Passion, beginning when He drank from the cup at the Last Supper, was a new Passover Meal. In the ancient Jewish Passover, there were a total of four cups of wine consumed. The fourth cup, the "Cup of Consummation," ends the meal. As we notice when reading the Gospels closely, Jesus only drinks from 3 cups of wine at the Last Supper. The fourth cup has not yet made its appearance.
During the Agony in the Garden, we hear Jesus ask the Father to "Let this cup pass from me," implying that the fourth cup is indeed coming, and that it will not be pleasant. So, when does Jesus drink His Cup of Consummation? On the cross. Jesus says "I thirst," and is given wine vinegar mixed with gall to suck from a sponge.
Jesus' brief sips of this wine both fulfill Psalm 69 ("They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst") and serve as His Cup of Consummation, bringing the New Passover Meal begun at the Last Supper to a close. We know this New Passover Meal as the Eucharist, and we commemorate it each and every week.
THIS is why Jesus chose to end His life with the words, "It is finished." He refers not only to His pre-Resurrection time on earth, but also to the New Passover Meal. The Cup of Consummation has been drunk, the Meal is ended, and the final sacrifice, that of Jesus' life itself, is poured out for us. Truly, an incredible and miraculous moment.
There is SO much more to say about this, but we don't have time to go into it all. I encourage you all to check out the book; you won't regret it. Bye for now, and we'll see you soon!