Today: Thursday, November 21, 2019

A Meal Shared    (3/12/2017 )

It was a gargantuan spread!  The table groaned under the weight of food and decorations.  There were gold dishes, silver candle sticks, bowls of fruit, flowers, meats, soups, cakes, trifles, sauces, salads, drinks, and all the cutlery and plates needed to deal with so much abundance.

It was a lord’s table, spread to impress his guests, enough to overwhelm them with a sense of his wealth and power.

Not many of us ever get to sit at such a table, and not many of us would feel comfortable faced with so much excess.

And what a contrast to think of the meal that Jesus served to his friends the night before his death!  We don’t know exactly what was on the table that Thursday evening, but we do know that there was some bread and some wine.  It was a simple meal, not lavish, but the sort of meal you might find in any other simple home then or now. 

Right from the beginning of Christian history, that simple but special meal has been symbolised by the two ‘vessels’ used - a plate and a cup.  They symbolise the food that is broken and shared for all to eat, and the drink that is poured out for all to share and drink.  They symbolise the gift of hospitality and fellowship when food is prepared and then taken together.

Jesus himself spoke of these two things as representing himself - “This is my body.  This is my blood.”  Ever since then, whenever Christians have met they have shared bread and wine at a table to remember that link with Jesus’ death - his body broken for us and his blood spilt for us.  This has been the focus of Christian worship through the ages, seeing God’s actions in providing nourishment, forgiveness and a welcome to his table and company.

This meal is not about opulence and indulgence, but about sacrifice and love.  It doesn’t focus on our stomachs or taste buds, but on our relationship with God and with each other.  It is food and drink not for one mealtime, but to satisfy continually our deepest needs and longing.

At the heart of the Christian message is not a requirement that we do anything special or are anyone special, only that we hear and respond to Jesus’ invitation to come and join him at his table. It may be easier to picture him coming into our own home and sitting down for a meal with us, and then realising that it is we who are the guests and that he is the host.  “Come to me,” he says - “Come and eat.”


Heaven is sometimes pictured as a great banquet, but that is clearly not about greed or opulence, but a picture of the riches of God, the glory of God, and the reality that God does and will meet our deepest needs with plenty and joyfulness.

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