By Ronald G. Davis
Few experiences are as pleasant and satisfying as sitting at a friend’s table for a simple meal. Jesus had that experience on a number of occasions. At the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, as recorded in John 12, it appeared to be especially delightful for him. That meal was, in a certain sense, a funeral luncheon prepared by a congregation for a dearly beloved member of the family. (Read John 12:1-3.) Only, on that occasion, the “dearly beloved” was still alive and present.
Though the food prepared by Martha was no doubt delicious and nutritious, and served “in Jesus’ honor” (v. 2), Mary’s attention to the feet of Jesus was the climax of the meal. When the air filled with the scent of that beautiful and costly perfume, Jesus was honored, honored for his approaching death. His murderers were lurking outside the family’s door . . . just across a ridge, in the plotting room of the chief priests (v. 10).
How fitting that Jesus was honored by a simple meal. Especially with the shadow of the cross falling across that same ridge, from the setting sun’s illumination of the high place of Golgotha.
And that is exactly what we are doing here at his table—sharing with friends a simple meal in Jesus’ honor. Though a shadow of death is hanging over the occasion, there is also the sweet smell of his sacrifice, rising to his Father and ours. Our senses are nearly overwhelmed. Our emotions rising and falling as the thoughts rush pell-mell through our minds. No doubt the same way Jesus’ friends of the Lazarus household felt on that happy, yet anxiety-filled evening in the home in Bethany.
Here we have come as his friends, at his invitation, and we are honored by the privilege . . . and yet we are here to honor him, not to be honored. Our praise of his loving sacrifice is our privilege. Do you feel like his friend? Do you feel the privilege of his invitation? (Can you see your name card by one of the spaces?) Do you now express the privilege of praise? Will you honor his death by partaking of the bread, representing his body? Will you honor his gift of blood by partaking of the cup? Will you thank your friend in every moment of this occasion?
Ron Davis loves “standing at the cross” reverently and thankfully each week at the Lord’s table of grace and sensing God’s love.
The image is a stained glass window of Jesus with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, circa 1866, created by Ward and Hughes. Public domain. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.