Hello and welcome to today’s Foundations podcast. As we draw near to the end of the book of Matthew we are continuing to look at Jesus’ last few days with the disciples before he went to the cross. Today’s passage is the story of the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17-35). These words will be really familiar to some and perhaps brand new to others. Words from this passage are often used every time the church gathers to share in the communion meal. That’s when members of the church share bread and wine with each other and remember that Jesus died for us and for the forgiveness of sins.
Today I’d love us to look at what John Mark Comer called the “sacred space” in everyone’s homes. The dinner table. John Mark Comer is an American pastor and we used some of his content in the Grow course very recently. He makes the point it’s something we already do… every day… eating… so let’s practise hospitality… let’s reclaim some beautiful principles from this lost art of having people round and welcoming people into our space and community.
Firstly, and I hope this is not shrugged off as a dull point, but it is significant in the Bible reading today that Jesus sits with his friends and shares a meal. If you are already a champion of sitting at the big table then please don’t switch off, stay with this thought, hopefully there is something for everyone in these next few minutes.
Let’s look at part of the passage today, verse 19-25…
So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”
Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
A few things to pull out and then we will finish with a prayer.
1. Even in this moment, before he goes to the cross, Jesus is present in the room. Yes, he is physically there – but so is his attention and care. He is with those disciples in body, mind and spirit.
How often are we present at the dinner table & with friends? I’m one for checking my phone at the table. It’s a bad habit. But in preparing these thoughts for the podcast this week it’s something I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to improve. Notifications should not dictate the flow of our meal. Have a think… how can I, like Jesus, be more present to those in front of me? Even if I am eating alone this evening… which is way more common today than it was a decade ago… think about how we can – in those moments – be less distracted. To take more time to be present and be thankful in a moment for things in our day or on our plate.
2. Jesus doesn’t avoid the difficult conversation to preserve the happy atmosphere.
Sometimes the dinner table might get messy because people are messy. And that reality sometimes needs to be engaged with. Jesus knows what Judas is about to do (v21) “Truly I tell you one of you will betray me.” Jesus addresses the very present thing going on in the heart of the person in front of Him.
Jesus is not shy about what is happening and who he is talking to, and Jesus does expose and shame him. Which is weird when you first think about it… But I’ve read this week that it is part of Jesus’ choice to go to the cross… if the disciples knew what Jesus was explicitly talking about – I’m sure they would have surely not let Judas leave the room. Jesus chose the cross.
Perhaps today we can be reminded about the lost art of dinner discipleship. That in a world that seems to be very fast… how can we practise being present in the moment around breakfast, lunch and dinner. And how can we talk more about how we really are, and what is really going on.
The application we’re faced with from today’s Bible passage is to be more present and to be more real. Let’s put that into practise today.
God, thank you for this story. Thank you that it means Jesus chose the cross for me and for the forgiveness of my sins.
Would you help us to be more present in the moment with people around us, and to not be shy to engage in what is going on in the hearts of people around us. Amen.
READING: Matthew 26:17-35
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’
He replied, ‘Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, “The Teacher says: my appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.”’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’
They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?’
Jesus replied, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.’
Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?’
Jesus answered, ‘You have said so.’
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Then Jesus told them, ‘This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
‘“I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’
Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.’
‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.’
But Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the other disciples said the same.