It's incredible how moving it is when love compels us to abstain. Is there anything more beautiful than a child, waiting for mother's day, the appointed day, to give her mom that gift she'd been working on? Or, how incredibly moving is it when someone tells you, "oh, I can't do that, or go there, or watch that, because that's something I can only do with my friend 'so and so,' it's our special tradition."
Or how about the powerful act of an engaged couple, waiting those long, grueling months of being "so close, but so far," from marriage. The painful wait for the wedding day where they'll get to finally enjoy that moment where they go "all the way." Or how about the widow who is too young to be a widow and has many good years of life left, but can't move beyond her commitment to the love of her life, and has chosen to wait for that eternal reunion with her beloved (my grandmother was a widow for 30 years). There is something gravitational about waiting, about abstaining from something you could have, for the sake of something better.
There's real power in waiting.
In the famous account of the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples share a Passover meal. Passover, up until that point, was about commemorating something that happened, remembering with thanksgiving the great sovereign act of liberation where God freed the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt.
But on this night, Jesus took the bread and the cup and illustrated that this now represents something that is about to happen (namely, his death on the cross). That in the future, this meal is to celebrate a new covenant commitment, a new marriage, paid for in His blood. And yet, as much as the Lord's Supper is designed to look backward, its real power is how it looks forward. In the words of Paul, it "proclaims the Lord's death until He comes,” meaning, it looks back on this act of covenant and commitment by Jesus on the cross, calling us forward to the reunion of his return.
What strikes me as I read Jesus's words is what He says about wine after He instructs His disciples to partake;
“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:24-25
Did you catch that? He invites them to forever associate the bread and wine meal with what He was about to do and then proclaims that He Himself will wait to enjoy the fruit of the vine until all things are made new in the end.
How incredible, to think that as we partake in the wine, as a symbol that both reminds us of the bridegroom's love for us (demonstrated on the cross), and is a foretaste of what is to come (the joyous wedding supper of the lamb), Jesus abstains. He waits. He is saving that for the wedding night with His bride. How sacred. How beautiful. How moving. He loves us enough to deny Himself the simple joy of wine, consecrating Himself until we can do it together.
How unimaginable to think that not only did Jesus suffer for us, paying the full price for our covenant with Him, but he consecrates Himself for a certain joy, a certain level of celebration for the day we are together once and for all.
Let that sink in. Jesus is waiting for you, for me, for us, in real-time, keeping Himself only unto us until the day where heaven and earth are fully and finally together, "all the way." When that realization hits you, feel the gravitational power of it. Let his LOVE for you, drive your life.
Let His LOVE drive your obedience.
Let His LOVE drive your long-suffering.
Let His LOVE drive your decisions.
Let His LOVE drive your expectations.
Let His LOVE drive your values.
Let His LOVE be what you treasure above all else.
"When I passed by you again and saw you, beyond, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine." Ezekiel 16:8