Present and Future Feasting

Note: This article is adapted from Eating and Drinking with God.

The Lord’s Supper is the sacred occasion for eating and drinking with God. The sacrament is food and drink for our souls, real communion with our risen Savior. Yet even though Jesus is present in the sacrament, he’s invisible to our senses. Right now, we can’t see, hear, smell or touch him, though one day we will. We already experience the real presence of our Savior, but one day we’ll experience Him fully.

This chapter addresses the “already and not-yet” aspect of the Lord’s Supper as we consider our present and future feasting. After defining this principle, we’ll examine the words of our Lord in the Last Supper. In doing so, we’ll consider how our present feasting involves Christ’s abstinence while our future feasting entails a reunion with Christ’s physical presence.

The “Already and Not Yet” Principle

The Bible teaches a present (“already”) and future (“not yet”) sense of our relationship with God.[1] Currently, we’re experiencing an “already” sense of communion with Christ. Jesus promised to be present through the bread and wine, and we receive this blessing by faith. Yet faith is different from sight; it is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1 KJV). One day faith will be superseded by sight, as we have sensory communion with our Savior. That’s the “not yet” sense.

Present Feasting and Christ’s Earthly Abstinence

Jesus spoke about the already and not yet principle in the Last Supper accounts. In Matthew and Mark, it occurs at the end of the text and only mentions the wine (Mt. 26:29; Mk. 14:25). Luke, however, included it in the middle of his account and mentioned both food and wine (Lk. 22:15-18). For this reason, we’ll consider Luke’s account in detail. The evangelist wrote:

And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

Jesus’ message involved both a present, earthly abstinence and a future, physical feasting. First, He spoke about abstaining from food and wine. Why? Because His death on the cross was imminent. This Last Supper was His last Passover on earth. It was the last old covenant meal He shared with his disciples. But the term “Last Supper” applies to the master, not to the disciples. The latter, as pilgrims along the way, would perpetuate the remembrance of this Last Passover in the form of the Lord’s Supper. For the Last Supper ratified the new covenant while the Lord’s Supper renews it going forward.

Christ’s present earthly abstinence coincides with the already sense of the sacrament. His physical abstinence results from spatial and temporal separation. As we learned in chapter 2, Jesus’ human nature is fixed in a particular space. He’s in heaven while we’re on earth. Thus, he can’t physically partake of the new covenant meal with his people. Moreover, Christ’s human nature is separated by time. He walked the earth in the first century while we do the same in the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, He’s really present in the sacrament. We experience Him through the power of the Holy Spirit who transcends space and time. And we receive the blessings of this experience by faith. This is our present feasting.

Future Feasting in Physical Presence

Yet Christ’s earthly abstinence won’t last forever. He promised to eat and drink in the coming of the kingdom of God. This messianic banquet had its roots in the Old Testament where the prophet Isaiah foreshadowed “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine” for all people on the “mountain of the Lord” (Isa. 25:6). This mountaintop banquet would also be accompanied by God “swallowing up death forever” and “wiping away tears from all faces,” (v. 8; cf. Rev. 21:4). These statements will find their fulfillment in our glorified state when Christ returns to make all things new (Rev. 21:1, 5a).

Like their presence in the Last Supper, the elements of food and wine are central images of this end-time feast. In other parts of his gospel, Luke made reference to Christ’s statements concerning this event. He spoke of patriarchs, prophets, and people from every direction (i.e., Gentiles) reclining at table in the kingdom of God (13:28-29). While attending an earthly banquet, Jesus spoke about the “resurrection of the just” and one of the others spoke up and exclaimed, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God” (14:14-15)![2]

The foreshadowing of the banquet in Isaiah and Luke finds fulfillment in Rev 19:7-9 in which the future feast is described in terms of a wedding:

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’

Here, the culmination of God’s redemptive plan is described as a wedding feast. The corporate church is represented as the bride about to wed the Lamb in vv. 7-8 while individual Christians are portrayed as guests at the wedding feast in v. 9. Jesus who abstained from the earthly feast by ascending into heaven, now partakes with his bride-people in their state of glory.

Yet our future feasting isn’t merely an intellectual curiosity; it reinforces our hope. Every time we celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of this future certainty. Eating and drinking in the earthly sacrament assures us that we will partake of future and face-to-face glory with our Savior. As Christians, this is our blessed hope.

Ken Golden is the organizing pastor at Sovereign Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Rock Island, IL. He is the author of Presbytopia: What It Means to by Presbyterian and Entering God’s Rest.

Related Links

Eating and Drinking with God by Ken Golden

What Is the Lord's Supper? by Richard Phillips

Feeding on Christ in the Lord's Supper, according to Calvin and the Westminster Confession by Wayne Spear [ Audio Disc | Download ]

Communing with Christ in His Supper by C.J. Williams [ Audio Disc | Download]

"The Puritans on the Lord's Supper" by Joel Beeke

  1. Introduction
  2. Papal Errors in the Lord's Supper
  3. Christ's Presence in the Lord's Supper
  4. Biblical Simplicity in the Lord's Supper
  5. Qualifications for Admission to the Lord's Supper
  6. Right Reception of the Lord's Supper
  7. Hindrances and Benefits of the Lord's Supper


[1] Concerning the relationship of this principle to the kingdom of God, see my Entering God’s Rest: The Sabbath from Genesis to Revelation and What it Means for You (Lancaster: Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, 2018), 70f.

[2] Christians will begin to experience this in the intermediate state. At death, our souls will separate from our bodies. The former transition to heaven and experience the risen Christ, while the latter remain on earth. Yet this is a temporary state since the inner man longs for the outer man. In Revelation 6:9-11, disembodied souls crying out for vengeance reveal a lack of resolution that can only come with the glorified state.