A man once remarked that he might have to work with a person he did not like, but he did not have to break bread with him. He is right. We do not invite our enemies to dinner. We cherish friends and relish spending time with them over a meal. We invite our friends to dinner, not enemies.
Given that friends, not enemies, eat together, it is astonishing that Jesus invites us to eat with him. Think about it. Before coming to know Jesus, we were enemies. Paul writes that we were sinners (Romans 5:8) and that we were aliens to the Divine (Ephesians 2:12, 19). It was because of our sins that he endured shame, reproach, and death (Isaiah 53:3-5). There was no sense in which we ever showed ourselves friendly to Jesus until he extended his love to us.
Despite our horrendous behavior, despite our sin, Jesus invites us to share dinner.
Jesus offered a parable in which a great man gave a fine banquet. This man invited many to join him, but none came. He then turned to the outcasts and called them to the banquet table. They came and rejoiced in his invitation (Luke 14:16-24). Today, we are the outcasts. We are the invisible throngs too dirty to be invited to the Jesus’ great banquet. Yet, Jesus calls us to banquet with him.
A banquet, or as we say in Alabama, a get-together, is always populated by friends. Jesus makes us His friends and invites us to His table. Stop and let that sink in. As Blues artist B.B. King would say, we are Riding with the King!
Jesus invites us to another table too. He calls us to a special memorial meal: The Lord’s Supper. Communion is multi-faceted. In it, we remember Jesus and we examine ourselves. The Lord’s Supper represents the ultimate earthly communion with Jesus and all of our brethren. In Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-23, Jesus joins his friends for the Passover meal. In all Israel, there was no more special time than this when one gathered with his closest friends and family to commemorate deliverance from Egypt. Now Jesus reclines with his dearest friends to partake of the Passover.
Using this momentous time, Jesus establishes a weekly meal which brethren enjoy together. But we do not commune only with friends. Jesus Himself joins us at the communal table. Here, the reality of his friendship is seen most clearly. Here, we see Jesus joining with the very people who caused his death. We see Jesus telling his former enemies to remember his death for them. We see former enemies joining in the most precious fellowship of all.
Our friendship with Jesus begins with Him. Left to our own schemes, we would never think to reach out to Jesus. And certainly, we bring nothing to Him worthy of his friendship. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19)!
The implications of friendship with Jesus are staggering. The Creator (John 1:3) has extended Himself to the created. The King has reached out to the commoner; the Lord has reached out to the lowly (1 Timothy 6:15). The Master embraces the slave (Matthew 10:24) and the teacher communes with the student (John 13:13). Even more, Jesus loves us so much that he shares his inheritance with us (Romans 8:17).
As you assemble around the Lord’s Table this week, consider the invitation to commune with Jesus. Think of what it means to be his friend and to heed his invitation to banquet with him.
Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at preachersstudyblog.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @J_Bryant_Evans.