You know what I’m talking about—the coveted table. The exclusive table. Maybe there was a time in your life (hopefully not past middle or high school) that you measured your own status by whether or not you sat amongst the cool. Although, it’s not like the food was any different at the cool table. Maybe you’ve wondered about what cool people talk about. I guess sometimes the quality of cool conversation can rise above some. They get to talk about those exclusive parties that promote their eminence. But that’s neither here nor there. Maybe we can credit those at the cool table with a better propensity for style. At the very least, the coveted table looked cool. They have that down to an art.
Perhaps even though you didn’t sit at the cool table, you prided yourself with the notion that at least you didn’t sit at that other table—the loser table full of misfits. Well, that’s the table where Jesus usually took his seat. In The Ongoing Feast, Arthur Just Jr. quotes R. Karris saying, “…in Luke’s Gospel Jesus got himself crucified by the way he ate” (128). Who you ate with was an even bigger deal to the Jerusalem society than it is now for us. It went beyond social status to one of righteousness. In order to sit amongst the righteous, there was a very rigorous, “detailed description of those considered to be ethnically pure Israelites according to the lines of descent based on genealogies of Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Chronicles. The purpose of this was to determine who was worthy to engage in table fellowship with them. Anyone not worthy of commensalism was considered a sinner, and the categories of sinner were long and detailed” (132).
Imagine the uproar then when Jesus is spotted supping with Levi, the tax collector. Jesus was very inclusive in his table fellowship. Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:1-2). It seems that if Jesus wasn’t eating and drinking with sinners, he was talking about eating and drinking through parables. Food and table fellowship are a major theme in Luke. That’s because there really is meaning attached to who we eat with.
We see in Scripture that Jesus ascribes much more to a meal than refueling. “Meals are a prime symbol of election, forgiveness, and eschatological blessing…” (140). Who did this guy think he was, God? Well, yes.
Right now, Christ’s table is inclusive. The invitation goes out to all sinners, misfits, and dejected. What does this imply concerning our attitude toward those we sup with? Just as biblical times, table fellowship now insinuates “peace, trust,… (and) sharing one’s life” (133).
Christ used table fellowship as one of his major means of teaching. He communicated his death, resurrection, and the new age to come. And on that great day when our Lord returns, we look forward to the best feast of all. This is the table that we should aspire to be seated. And this table is exclusive. It is only for those who have trusted in Jesus Christ for their righteousness. He has paid the highest cost for this supper, his own blood, all to invite us to the table.
Until then, we are called to the table fellowship of the Lord’s Supper, where ordinary bread and wine become a means of grace to convey the benefits of his death and resurrection. It is an eschatological meal amongst fellow redeemed sinners and confessors of Christ. The future breaks into the present, the age to come breaks in to these last days. God’s promises of the reality of the new creation are ratified in this meal.
Maybe you’ve been longing to be invited to some other meal, some other exclusive table. Let me encourage you that the King is summoning a people to his table. Just as when he was walking this earth, it may appear to the world that we are being invited by a rejected Savior to a table full of outcasts. It certainly looks odd that we now feast on our Savior’s body and blood. But because of his body and blood, there will come a day when we are invited to the great feast, in which Christ is the host. “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (Rev. 19:9). And trust me, the food at this table will be amazing.