“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread…” 1 Corinthians 11: 23b
So today it’s Good Friday, and our thoughts are drawn to the cross, but this week I’ve been thinking about the TABLE that came before the cross. I’ve been pondering the emotionally charged atmosphere around the table where Jesus talked of betrayal, his broken body, shed blood, and the denial of his nearest and dearest. And I am flawed afresh at the enormity of His love.
The table… is a place where loved ones and strangers gather over the commonality of food. It’s a place where individuals connect, even for a little while. It’s a place of nourishment— for the body and for the soul. For the foodie, it’s a breathtaking place of delight, and for the provider it’s a place to physically pour out love.
I love the table. In our family, it’s been a “thing” to gather around the dining room table for dinner in the evening (wherever possible— definitely easier when the kids were tinies) and simply be together. We make eye contact, diffuse irritations and potential arguments (most of them), ask questions, make plans, catch up the day, laugh a lot, and enjoy food. Yeah, it’s gone through different phases through the years (from picky tots to bottomless-pits) but it’s a simple beauty to me. And there’s nothing like gathering friends or extended family around the table and enjoying one another. The table is THE place.
And then there’s this table at The Last Supper…
“The Last Supper” Leonardo da Vinci
I get tingles when I think of The Last Supper. There have been magnificent paintings created depicting Jesus around the table with His disciples, poems have been penned, and songs composed— all drawing our attention to the high emotions and poignant reactions to this world-famous evening meal. This event was intimate yet fully charged. Jesus knew His time was running short, but chose to spend it with His dearest friends, His disciples— around the table.
“Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.” (Matthew 26: 20b)
Jesus selected the venue, ensured all preparations were made for food, and created a special atmosphere of intimacy and relaxation one last time, because He had some heavy stuff to unpack. Always the picture of love and compassion, Jesus put His own incomparable grief and sorrow aside while He let them enjoy— I’m guessing there would have been much joking and laughter initially as they ate together. Twelve guys at the same table are very rarely sensible and solemn. Just saying. But eventually, Jesus had to share his heart.
He wanted to show them how they were to treat one another in love and humility, so He got down on his hands and knees and went right around that table washing their dirty, dusty feet. The King of the Universe with the most tender of hearts. Then He told them that one of THEIR OWN was going to betray Him. And then Jesus initiated the very first Communion- they shared the bread and the wine together, symbolizing His body and His blood “which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.“ (Matthew 26:28b). Wow. Did the disciples appreciate the depth of His words? The solemnity of those elements? Did they imagine centuries later we would still be remembering… And finally Jesus explained that dear Peter was about to completely disown Jesus and deny ever knowing Him. This was a LOT to take in on one evening.
I wonder what emotions encompassed this table. Did Jesus have tears in His eyes when He spoke of betrayal? Did Judas? As Jesus washed those feet, did He long for His disciples to grasp the magnitude of His actions? Did His hands tremble as He broke the bread, knowing His destiny? And how heavy was His heart when he took Peter by the shoulder and looked into his eager eyes and told him of the denial? Oh Lord, what you went through around that table… and then there was the cross.
From a wooden table to a wooden cross.
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8
Good Friday, we remember. Our humble King, our Redeemer who sacrificed all to pay the price for you and I. He died the cruelest of deaths and then conquered the grave that we might live forever… if you have a minute, listen to this powerful song “Forever” by Kari Jobe and bask in its truth: “Now death where is your sting? Our resurrected King had rendered you defeated…”
Will you take a little alone time this weekend to truly remember and be in awe of Jesus’ death and resurrection… and how it is personal? And when you gather around YOUR Easter table with loved ones, consider that other table, the night before Good Friday— consider the bread and the wine and the love and the sacrifice. And give thanks.
Have a happy, blessed, glorious Easter weekend, dear friends!
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