“When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me. In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you. But look, the hand of the one betraying Me is at the table with Me! For the Son of Man will go away as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”
This story in Luke of Jesus’ “Last Supper” with His disciples holds all of the elements of a great dinner feast; wine, bread, trash talking, and story telling. Okay, maybe trash talking is a little extreme, but I’m telling you, that last sentence? Jesus was getting feisty!
There are few things in this world that I love as much as gathering around a table with my dearest friends and sharing a meal. Every time it happens (and if I’m honest, its fairly often, we like to EAT!) I can’t help but feel like it is sacred somehow. I believe Jesus really liked dinner parties as well. And as we read in the text, He was especially excited about THIS particular meal. It is referred to as the Last Supper and scriptures will tell us that they were eating the Passover Meal. This meal was important to the Jews because it was a yearly reminder of when God delivered them out of slavery to the Egyptian’s and into their freedom in the Promised Land. This meal was important to Jesus because it is some of the last words that He will speak to those closest to Him on earth. And that’s important to us because the words He spoke then are still active for us today. While this story is rich with symbolism and history I would like to share three principles that Jesus was communicating through this meal that, if we let them, will change us.
Live Communally: Jesus example in life, until the very end, was living in rich, deep community. And He wants the same for us. In order to exist in that kind of community you have to be willing to be vulnerable. I love that the very first thing Jesus tells them is how excited He is to share this meal with them. He was honest and humble and I believe authentic community is impossible without those as a foundation.
Remember Often: His command to them regarding communion was for the purpose of remembering. I have an absolutely terrible memory. It’s actually somewhat alarming to me just how bad it is. However, the stories and moments that are easiest for me to remember are the ones that I talk about the most. I have walked with Jesus for most of my life and His daily faithfulness is astounding to me. I wonder, though, how much of His goodness and faithfulness I have forgotten because I simply didn’t share them. Remembering who Jesus has been not only to you, but also to those around you, will build your faith and expand your view of Him.
Walk Freely: Jesus’ desire is for us to live an abundant, free life. The Passover Meal was to remember freedom. To remind them that they are no longer slaves to Pharaoh but that God had made a way for them. The thing that was so important for the Jews to remember in their exodus is the same thing that is important for us to remember now. We are free. We don’t have to live as slaves to sin, or self. We can acknowledge what Jesus did on the cross as enough and start living a life out in the open spaces.
I would like to encourage you this week to gather up some of your very best people, squeeze in around a table, open up some of your favorite wine, and share your life, remember His goodness, and breath in, like fresh air, the truth that you are free.
Mekenzie Stearns is an integral part of volunteer ministry teams at Westside Church. Raised in Southern Oregon, she attended Vanguard University and has called Bend, OR her home for 9 years.