By David Faust
Wedding cake tastes delicious, but that’s not why you go to the ceremony and the reception. When salespeople take clients to lunch, the menu isn’t the point of the meeting. My wife makes scrumptious fruit cobbler, but eating is only part of the experience. The berries taste sweeter because we picked them with our own hands.
Family suppers were standard procedure on the farm where I grew up. My brothers and I argued over who got the biggest piece of pie. Our inclination toward mischief probably explains why Mom and Dad required us to hold hands around the table and pray before we ate! Those meals were special times for family conversations while we devoured roast beef, green beans, sweet corn, and potatoes grown in our garden. The memory of those meals still makes my mouth water, but it wasn’t just about the food.
In the Old Testament God placed a family meal at the center of the worship calendar every spring. The Passover table was spread with roasted lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs to remind the Jews about the bitter tears they shed when they were slaves in Egypt. Even then, it wasn’t mainly about the food. The Passover brought generations together. Aging patriarchs and matriarchs broke bread with young boys and girls, reflecting on the story of Israel’s deliverance just as their ancestors had done.
Invited to the Table
God invites us to supper too. Jesus experienced the Passover as a youth, traveling to Jerusalem with his family when he was 12 years old. In that same city 21 years later, he ate the Passover with his disciples on the night before the cross. During that meal, he infused centuries-old Jewish traditions with new meaning that would extend into the centuries to come. For us, the unleavened bread now brings to mind Jesus’ body, and the cup reminds us of his “blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).
For us, the table is a time to connect with the Lord and his family. Remember how Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners like Matthew and Zacchaeus? That’s what the Lord’s Supper is like—Jesus dining with redeemed rascals like us. Remember how Jesus broke bread and multiplied it when he fed the 5,000? That’s what the Lord’s Supper is like—Jesus acting as host to nourish the starving multitude. Remember how the two disciples on the road to Emmaus finally had their eyes opened to recognize Jesus when “he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them” (Luke 24:30, 31)? Remember how Jesus rebuked a lukewarm church and said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20)? That’s what supper time is like in the church.
Around the Lord’s table we connect and reflect, repent and rejoice. In this meal calories are low but significance is high. We join with generations of believers all over the world who share in the body and the blood. There’s spiritual nourishment in a morsel of bread and a sip of juice, but it’s not mainly about the food; it’s about the Lord.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
|Feb. 1||M.||Luke 2:41-49||Young Jesus and the Passover|
|Feb. 2||T.||Matthew 26:20-30||Jesus’ Last Passover|
|Feb. 3||W.||Exodus 8:20-29||Plague of Flies|
|Feb. 4||T.||Exodus 10:12-20||Plague of Locusts|
|Feb. 5||F.||Numbers 9:1-4, 13||Detailed Instructions|
|Feb. 6||S.||Joshua 4:1-7||When Your Children Ask|
|Feb. 7||S.||Exodus 12:1-14||Preparing for Passover|
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version © 2011, unless otherwise indicated.