“And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves.”
– Luke 22:14-17 ESV
I was in 4th grade when Mrs. Holly told the class that we had to write a short essay to answer the question “If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?”. I’m pretty sure someone said “Abraham Lincoln” or “Martin Luther King Jr.” I do remember one girl saying she’d want to have dinner with Mrs. Holly. All the kids in my class rolled their eyes. She was obviously the teachers pet… In all honesty I can’t remember what I wrote but as I read this passage I can’t help but think this is Jesus answering that question.
“Jesus, if you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?”
You’d think we’d see the holiest of people at the table… I mean, he’s God! I’d probably expect to find the wealthiest or the most servant hearted. Surely the most talented people of that day but I’m always quite amazed at who Jesus decided to spend his last meal with. On one side of the table is Peter. An overly passionate man who Jesus knew would deny him in the coming hours and yet… He received an invitation. Then there’s James and John, two brothers who had asked their mother to speak to Jesus about promoting them above the rest. They were eager to lock in their position in the coming kingdom and despite their manipulative maneuvering… they received an invitation. At the end of the table, where the candle flickered on his dimly lit face was Judas. The betrayer who was moments away from betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver even he still received an invitation. It’s incredible to think that Jesus knew what was about to unfold in the following hours. He knew the decisions his friends had made or would make and still he chose to have dinner with them.
When I consider who I would spend my last meal with I can tell you now that my first instinct wouldn’t be to spend it with people that would leave me when I needed them but with those that have impacted me. The people in my life that have sown into me, loved me, and encouraged me. Basically, the people that I’ve benefited from. However, Jesus decides to take his final hours to set an example for us and to show us that:
1. Our tables aren’t meant to be for “me and mine” but they’re meant to include the unlikely, the manipulative, the narrow-minded, the betrayers, the selfish.
2. It’s at the table that we remember that because he made room for me, I can make room for someone else. Although in this passage we might only see Jesus’ close friends at dinner Jesus knew that in 4 days the table was about to get a lot bigger.
The Last Supper is a beautiful reminder that we all have a seat at the table. It reminds us that Jesus didn’t come for those that are perfect or for those who have the cookie cut image put together but “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” The truth is we’ve all been invited. This is for everyone. His body was broken and his blood was spilt for the imperfect, the broken, the hurting and the lost so that we might come to know the fullness of Christ. That we might pull up a chair and invite someone to know the love that we’ve encountered, to experience the acceptance that we always longed for. If Jesus could have dinner with anyone in the world it would be you.
“but Jesus… WHY!?”
“Because I love you.”