Theme Verses: 14-15 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. (Luke 22:7-22)
In the above passage, it is not the first time that Jesus has had a meal around the table, but even before, he dined with the people on several occasions. The gospel of Luke records ten meal stories on different occasions, and through every meal story, Jesus communicated the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Table Fellowship motif in the gospel is quite interesting where Jesus uniquely reveals Himself. Interestingly, the book of Esther is centered around the table fellowship. The meal has been the symbol of mission in Jesus’ ministry, and the subject of “table talk” is often seen during the table fellowship where Jesus teaches His listeners concerning the Kingdom of God.
In most cases, Jesus was invited as the guest by the people, but in the above passage, Jesus becomes the Host at this spiritual feast. As a good Host, He arranges everything beforehand for the Passover meal. He even washes the disciples’ feet to offer genuine hospitality to them (John 13). In the Old Testament, “God is depicted as a host who provides manna to the Israelites in the wilderness,” but God, the Host in the OT, becomes manna for the Church in the New Testament. In John 6:56, Jesus said, ‘Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.’ His body and blood become life for those who truly believe in Him.
During the supper, Jesus allowed Judas Iscariot to repent by offering His body and blood to him. Even after knowing that Judas would betray, Jesus allowed Judas to be part of the table fellowship. But sadly, Judas failed to understand the love of Christ and left the table unrepented. The Lord’s table is unique. Although it is open for all, we cannot have fellowship with the world and God simultaneously. In 1 Corinthians 10: 21, Paul warns the Corinthian Church, ‘you cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.‘ As we partake in holy communion, what is essential for us to grasp is that “I am in fellowship with Christ.” If we are really in fellowship with Christ, we cannot be in fellowship with demons. If we are regular visitors to the table of the Lord Jesus, there are also some things we cannot touch. One of the great statues of Christ is that carved by Thorwaldsen. After creating his masterpiece, he was offered a liberal commission to carve a statue of Venus for the Louvre. His answer: “The hand that has carved the form of Christ could never carve the form of a heathen goddess.”
According to F.F. Bruce, ‘the love of God is limitless; it embraces all mankind.’ In Luke 15, when the prodigal son left the worldly table and repented of his sins, his father arranged the table fellowship to celebrate the prodigal son’s return. Through this fellowship, the father expresses his gladness that his younger son ‘was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found‘ (vs. 32). It was not just the table of celebration but of embrace and reconciliation. Table fellowship is an ongoing event that calls people into fellowship with God and one another. The Passover meal, which became the Lord’s Supper for the Church, spreads beyond Jewish tables to the rest of the world. Table fellowship is the event that brings people to become part of God’s table when His Kingdom fully comes.
Rev. Dr. Samuel Richmond