The Lord’s Table
(1 Cor. 11: 17-32, Ps. 23: 4)
We have glanced at the meal Jesus shared with the 12 before His betrayal. Later Paul wrote that He received instruction from the Lord concerning this meal, that it was to be kept. Remember that Paul spent years away pondering and processing all he had learned as a Pharisee. He had been taught at the feet of Gamaliel. That man had the sense to urge his fellow religious leaders to stop fighting the outpouring of the Spirit upon these Galileans. He was more open than the rest of those religious men. He was not far from the kingdom; I think he was on his way.
While Paul pondered much before the Lord, Jesus Himself gave instruction to this apostle, this one born out of season. Consider this, Jesus taught Him directly. For all of us, as He would send us into our appointed fields of true service, we can, and must, hear His voice. The Spirit uses the Law and Prophets to teach us. In them, Christ is revealed in so many wonderful ways. The tabernacle, its furnishings, the ark of the covenant itself. But all of these are a shadow of the reality that the Spirit leads us into. It is all that we may know Christ. To be found in Him at the end of the day was Paul’s desire. It must become ours as well.
The Lord has been meeting His people at a table in many ways for a long time. Moses and the elders sat before the glory of God and ate and drank before Him. David spoke of the table set before him, in the presence of his enemies. The table of showbread was in the tabernacle. David understood the lovingkindness of God so he was not afraid to eat that showbread when hungry. A quiet joy in the gift of the Lord is ours when we commune with Him and receive the bread and the wine. He Himself is, and becomes in our experience, the bread and the wine. We know Him, and His great love in a deeper way. We need to discern His body as we do this and examine ourselves, by the Spirit.
While the bread represents His body to us, we may also recognize that we ourselves are His members. We are His body here in the earth today. Are we loving and caring for one another as the very members of Christ? Paul’s letter reflects on this, that they were not doing well is this regard. Are we discerning, seeing one another, as His body? Are our shortcomings in this a reason for weakness, sickness, and sleep (death) among His body? No guilt or shame in this, but an encouragement, an urging for greater love and caring for one another.
Paul delivered this instruction to the Corinthians. They needed a deeper communion with the Lord Himself and an outworking of that in a true communion with one another. Let’s face it, they were a mess and we can be like them. But they belonged to God and Paul called them saints, sanctified ones, knowing that nature was based on God’s working, not in their behavior, immature as it was. They were lacking in the most fundamental ingredient of maturity, love for one another.
They needed to practice very basic ways of love among themselves. Dragging one another to law courts, seeking their own benefits to the loss in other lives were some of the problems. Paul instructs them regarding the Lord’s meal, that table and mentions, “in the night He was betrayed.” Betrayed to His torturers and murderers, He was. And we moan and groan over much less and then seek to extract a tooth for a tooth. Will we love one another, even when we see a betrayer at the table with us? Jude writes us, warns us, that some so-called brothers at our love feasts are like clouds without rain, those having a good appearance but no substance.
More will be written here concerning a table, a place of communion. The underlying message is this; grace, grace, and more grace.