Still so many things we could talk about – But I’ve decided to talk about somethnig that I really love, and that’s ‘dinner’.
I wonder if you can remember the unique horror of being in school, walking with a tray, and trying to find a seat in a sea of people you don’t know.
Most of us know something about walking around awkwardly with the tray, not knowing where you belong, not know who you fit in with, hoping someone will invite you to their table, hoping someone will include you.
The interesting thing is I bet most of us have been on the planet long enough to experience sitting at a table with someone that we didn’t want at the table.
I feel like that’s my biggest issue with those ‘teppan grill’ chinese places. I don’t want to eat dinner with strangers.
My point: Table fellowship is a big deal.
There’s something sacred about dinner – Not you cramming a Double Big Mac into your face in your car. There’s something primal about sharing a meal with someone where you’re sitting there, eyeball-to-eyeball. There’s something very human about it. We all need food. And you can only look so nice when you eat.
Something in act of sharing a meal that kinda puts us all on the same playing field. Kinda levels us out.
So it makes sense then why the primary scandal of Jesus’s ministry is the people that he chooses to have table fellowship with.
It’s odd, that for all the things he did that we find offensive and shocking. More than anything he taught, more than any miracle, it was this “That guy will eat with anybody.”
He will share a table with ANYBODY.
Think of Zacchaeus, the ‘wee little man’, Jesus saught him out and what’s the first thing he did with him? Hey man, get out of that tree and I can tell you what a horrible sinner you are!!! No, get down here, I must dine at your house tonight.
“For Jesus this table fellowship with those whom the religious had written off was not just an expression of tolerance and humanitarianism. It was the expression of his mission and message: peace and reconciliation for all, without exception, even for the moral failures.” (Albert Nolan Theologian “Jesus before Christianity”)
I’ve always liked that story about how Jesus invited everybody. It’s the perfect example of broken, imperfect, liars, misfits – invited to the table just the same as everybody.
But what has really struck me this week is just how far that invitation extends.
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. (Matthew 26:20)
And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”(skip down) (Matthew 26:21)
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.” (Matthew 26:26)
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. (Matthew 26:27)
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28)
Here’s my question: What does it mean for Judas, the betrayer, to be included in this supper?
The offer is extended not only to people who society has decided are unworthy, but is extended even to the one who betrayed Jesus.
Are comfortable eating with Judas?
- Convicted felon?
- “Lazy” Homeless people?
- Another religion?
- Misguided politicians
- Doctrinally imperfect Christians
But ironically, the reason a lot of people can’t bring themselves to the table is because to come to the table at all is an acknowledgment that you are broken and in need of Jesus.
It means you’re associating with all these other imperfect people.
You have to admit to the ways you’re imperfect yourself. That you’re broken yourself.
And for lots of us, we don’t want to be named in that group.
We don’t like the kind of fellowship that comes to the Lord’s table. We all have people we don’t like to be associated with.
“I’m just glad I don’t have to eat with people like THAT.”
Like: Jesus is inviting you to his table.
“7:30. Cool cool…. Who else is gonna be there?”
(Show me the guest list first. So I can decide if it’s cool for me to come or not.)
I love the grouping of prostitutes and tax-collectors, b/c I think one is going to be harder to love than the other depending on what kind of person you are.
So someone who tends to be more liberal would have no problem with a prostitute but would likely struggle with “those greedy such and such rich people and politicians. – They’re the real problem!!!”
On the other hand, the conservatives, might look at it differently, possibly even reverse.
But what’s wonderful about Jesus is he offers kindness and forgiveness to both at the same time.
So maybe – have Judas.
And then for you the challenge is this: there is a place for them at the Lord’s table too.
Maybe – ARE Judas.
And then for you, the message is this: there will always be a place for you here.
I know there’s a lot of complexity about Judas that I could never sort out in one message, or 10 messages, and everyone’s gonna have a different opinion about.
I believe Judas had the opportunity to come back to God at any point.
Peter denied Jesus 3 times, do you really think Judas is that much worse? They both betrayed Jesus.
I believe when Jesus said ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do.’ I believe that included Judas.
The thing about Judas that was so tragic, is that he in his brokenness, just cannot receive the forgiveness that’s extended to him. He can’t fathom it. But Judas could not receive it. And sadly, we know Judas will be filled with regret and despair and go out and kill himself.
B/C unlike Peter, Judas could not comprehend a God who would offer him a seat at the table.
A lesson from Judas: The first tragedy is to commit sin, the second is not to believe in forgiveness. The second is worse than the first.
Meanwhile, the power of the gospel is found in a God who sees you as you really are, and loves you.
Even when you feel ‘I shouldn’t be here.’ Jesus is looking you square in the eye and saying ‘Come & Eat’.
No matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how many times you’ve done it, and no matter how ashamed and unworthy you feel, you have been invited to the table.