Around two thousand years ago in an upstairs room surrounded by His closest friends and confidants, Jesus reclined, eating a meal not unlike the one many of us will experience with friends and family during this Holiday season. To set the scene: I picture a candlelit upstairs room, darkness fallen outside, a gentle breeze whistling around the town blowing a bit of dust around the buildings and upon the streets. And there sits this curious bunch reclined around their Passover meal. I’m not an expert on the Jewish Passover, but to them, perhaps it was liken to our green bean casserole or buttery rolls. A group of friends meeting together one last time for Passover and fellowship before Jesus would lay His life down for them.
“I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” – Luke 22:15
They knew and had heard from Jesus already what would come. That their friend would die in order that they would have life eternal. Yet in spite of the trials to come; they ate and had fellowship anyway. Jesus earnestly desired their company before meeting the cross. These friends were humans like us. There was probably laughter and sadness. Brokenness. Deep conversation and joy— not unlike our own gatherings today.
Then in the midst of the simplicity of this meal, Jesus does something spectacular.
He picked up the bread and wine, and drew a rich metaphor between the sacrifice He would make for humanity and the meal they were eating together.
“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” – Luke 22:19
In Jesus’ simple yet profound statement, I find a hole ripped in the great chasm between Heaven and Earth. The Lord comes from Heaven, and sups with His people on Earth. He tells them of His body that would be given for them, the sacrifice needed to put them at rights with their creator and provide a door for redemption. Death to be defeated, a serpent’s head to be crushed. It’s one of these first moments recorded where I see Heaven and Earth interlocking in a way we haven’t seen before Jesus arrives on the scene.
Jesus called his disciples to the table and ate with them in spite of the many ways they failed him (and would continue failing him) during his ministry on Earth. The doubter? He was at the table. The denier? He was at the table. Even the betrayer was invited and attended for a little while. Jesus ate with them anyway and called their thoughts heavenward, bringing to the table words of life everlasting. I find this startling approach Jesus took rich with application for us today.
When we celebrate Christmas this year, we think of the baby in the manger. And while it’s absolutely worth celebrating, I find my mind on the Passover. Because the Lord found us desirable for His presence, sat among our ancestors in the flesh, and broke bread bringing a word of redemption over a meal.
And here we are now, thousands of years later.
Yesterday I found myself at two family tables breaking bread in celebration of Christ arriving on earth. The connection between this and the Passover as celebrated by Jesus and His disciples wasn’t lost on me. It’s as if we get to inaugurate Heaven coming on Earth every time we do this. Calling remembrance to God who did not forget about His people, but rather laid His life down that they would be set free.
So I write this and find my heart overwhelmed — I get to inaugurate the kingdom over and over again every time we meet in His name and continue to break down the chasm of our sinful fallen nature that separates us from the world that will one day be made whole.
We’re told in Matthew 18:20 that where two or three are gathered in God’s name, He’s with us. I believe this Word is true. When our families (and yours) meet together and share your holiday meal in Jesus’ name, He sups with you. Dwelling among us as we live out glimmers of the New Heaven coming on Earth.
So meet together. Put aside your differences for a time and eat a meal. Celebrate the coming of the King and a kingdom that will put an end to our brokenness, mend our spirits, and set us free. Pass the rolls, praise the King, and set your sights on redemption. In your gatherings from Centreville to Green Pond, remind your family that Jesus has not just been born in a manger, but died on a cross, rose again, and returns with good news. Death defeated and the captives set free.
As my favorite hymn proclaims: “Joy to the world, The Lord is come. Let Earth receive her king.”
Merry Christmas, Alabama.
THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE THE OPINIONS OF THE WRITER AND NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF THE BIBB VOICE OR ITS EDITORIAL BOARD. YOUR COMMENTS ARE INVITED AND ARE WELCOME.