A Place at the Table…
If I could be transported back in time to experience a Bible story first-hand, the choice would be difficult. But for today, I am going to ponder having a place at the table, when Jesus shared his final meal and message with the apostles. We know it as The Last Supper.
It’s one of the world’s most iconic art works, originally painted on a stone wall, over five hundred years ago, at a convent in Milan, Italy. It’s a large mural, approximately fifteen by thirty feet in size. The Last Supper portrays Christ’s inner circle of disciples, responding to the revelation that there was a traitor in their midst. Imagine having a place at the table – your feet washed by the Master and then hearing the final instructions of Christ.
Meal times in the Middle East were akin to our modern day picnic on a blanket. The food was laid on the floor, on a piece of cloth, or perhaps on a slightly raised platform of sorts. There may have been pillows to recline on and you would eat either sitting down or lying on your side. We know from the gospel accounts, that the honored place at the table, reclining next to Jesus, was the Apostle John.
John is known as the “beloved disciple”, a description by the way, that is not intended to produce envy or exclusivity in our hearts. Wasn’t Jesus close to everyone? Does He not love us all the same? True, but He was mentoring and preparing John to take his place as a literal son, to care for His mother, after His death. Who knows? John’s place at the table may have been needful for those specific instructions. There is also the element of receptivity and response. Perhaps John pressed in a bit more to go deep in his relationship with Christ.
Our place at the table today is in close proximity to Christ. “And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One). Eph.2:6 (AMPC) We all have the same relational access. The choice to abide there, is our daily opportunity.
Escorts Unto Enlargement…
Desiring to walk in the “beloved” status for which we are all qualified, will entail the embrace of restraints along the way. Unlikely allies will include: suffering, disciplined yielding, and living the crucified life. Jesus certainly modeled this for us. For John, decades of ministry adventures were his reward, but in his final years he was banished to a Roman penal colony. The older I get, the more I understand and appreciate the story-line of my life. The ebbs and flows once deemed narrow and constricting, prove to be escorts unto enlargement.
More than likely, John anticipated his retirement to be as a Roman prisoner, not an end time prophet who would pen a book for the ages. It behooves us to never call any chapter the final one. John saw his beloved Jesus, but it wasn’t the upper room Jesus or the resurrected earthly form of Christ. It was the ascended glorified Christ, overwhelmingly glorious to where John “fell at His feet as though dead.” Jesus placed His right hand on John and spoke to him. The narrative brings us directly into the mission at hand, but I wonder if Jesus may have taken at least a moment to embrace His faithful follower?
Leaning on Jesus’ bosom had to be a comforting memory for John on Patmos, even as Jesus was sustained during earth’s hardships, by being in the bosom of the Father. “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” Jn 1:18 This is my place at the table, from which I want to live and speak.
People see God the clearest in me when I am actively reclining in the bosom of the Father.