31. Jesus at Your Table!

We have seen throughout this entire chapter that Jesus came eating and drinking, so we should not be surprised that this is also how he spent his last evening on earth. In the face of what he knew was coming on the morrow, he remained faithful to the practice of a shared meal with those he loved. Jesus intends for this Last Supper to be repeated, put into practice on a regular basis if you will. By appropriating the custom of the Passover Feast “continually celebrated [by the faith community] as a perpetual institution,”[1] Jesus frames the context of what will become the practice of both the shared and the sacred meal in the church.

When we sit down to share a meal with others, we don’t typically pass the bread and sip the wine in remembrance of Jesus, particularly if there are people at the table we don’t know very well, or people who don’t know Jesus. Even so, a meal shared by believers in the company of unbelievers is filled with Jesus’ presence.

Such a meal can be effectively used by believers together to remember him, and in a non-threatening way to introduce Jesus to others. Perhaps we remember and share one of his parables. Maybe we wonder aloud what he would do in a certain situation, or intentionally express our gratitude for the food God has provided. Like Jesus, we may confront wayward behavior or thinking, or entreat others to listen to what Jesus has to say.   In remembering, we give testimony to others about our own life experiences when the blood of this Jesus saved us from the folly of our own sin-induced slavery, when he opened our hearts to hear his Word even as death passed us by, when we finally understood what Jesus undertook to save us by becoming the sacrificial lamb for the salvation of those who believe, by dying in our place to pay for our wickedness. If, like the Jewish leadership, Jesus had maintained separation as a way to preserve his purity in the face of our sin-fed uncleanness, he would not condescend to eat with us, and we would have no hope. Instead, he shares a meal with us, and means for us to share it with others.

It’s true. When we share food around a table, we can always share Jesus too, especially as we remember all the times and many ways he has been present in our lives. At your daily table, Jesus is there, eager to share a meal with you, your family, and your guests. It is this common experience of eating in Jesus’ presence and remembering him that

  • gives us sanctuary from life’s storms
  • gently reminds us to be mindful of our thoughts, motives, and deeds
  • prompts us to carry out his co-mission to make disciples and be actively at work in the kingdom
  • and looks forward with fervent anticipation to the day of his return and the great feast we will share with him in heaven.

Next time we move on to the next chapter to address meals in the first century church.  Keep reading!

~ Julie A.P. Walton, Ph.D.

[1] John Paul Heil, The Meal Scenes in Luke Acts: An Audience-Oriented Approach, p.175.

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