As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, most people begin to consider everything for which they are thankful: family, friends, jobs, homes, health, and more. This is certainly the right attitude, one that ought to permeate our daily lives.

This attitude of thankfulness is also found in the Jewish celebration of Passover, which commemorates God’s deliverance of his people from slavery in Egypt. It is a celebration that helps Jews remember what God has done for his people, surely a time to be thankful. As a Jew, Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples, reminding them of God’s deliverance in the past.

It was in the context of this celebration and remembrance that Jesus instituted the Last Supper. Matthew 26:26-28 says that “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’”

While the disciples remembered that God had freed his people from physical slavery, Jesus gave thanks. But I think that there’s an element of Jesus’ thankfulness that looks to the future. Jesus knew that he was about to be sacrificed in order to free his people spiritually, and despite the pain and suffering he would soon experience, he gave thanks.

If we continue to pray that God would make us more like Jesus, we should also give thanks the way Jesus did. We have the responsibility to remember what God has done for us, freeing us from our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus, and for that we must give thanks. We also have the privilege of giving thanks for what God will do for us in the future.

As we gather with our families and friends to give thanks for what God has given us, let us not forget to give thanks for what God has done for us through Jesus. Let us give thanks for what God continues to do through us, bringing others into God’s kingdom. Let us give thanks for what God will do in the future, gathering us to heaven to be with him forever.