Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. –Jonah 3:3
This could serve as a great motivational speech. Here is a city known for its brutality. It is great, yea, exceedingly great! This is David and Goliath re-told. The odds are against you. The magnitude of the opposition is evident. How can God break this army of barbaric men?
“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.
That’s it! A message? But it’s too simple; too foolish, one might say. Too weak! Yes, too weak; the type of weakness that turns the world upside down. “Not by might or power, but by your Spirit.
This is what we have at this table: a meal that by all appearances seems weak: a little bread and wine. But by the Spirit, this meal becomes to us a meal of life and abundant life. Bread represents the body of our Lord. The wine represents the blood our Lord. The weakness of the crucified body and blood given for us is the means to transform the opposing army; to form us into obedient servants, so that the greatness and exceeding might of Nineveh will become the exceeding might of our blessed Lord Jesus.
But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.-Jonah 1:3
A few words ideas to keep in mind: First, in the beginning of verse three Jonah flees from the presence of the Lord. At the end of verse three Jonah flees from the presence of the Lord. In the middle of verse three he goes DOWN to Joppa and then he also goes down into the ship. Away from the presence of the Lord and away from the presence of the Lord, and the middle makes that primary point that Jonah is going down and then down again. He goes down to Joppa and down into the ship, and then he goes down into the belly of this creature. Down into the city; down into the ship, and down into Sheol. This is the progression of death; the progression of disobedience.
At our table today, Jesus offers you a progression of faithfulness. He was faithful by not abandoning His Father. He took on Jerusalem and proclaimed the gospel of peace and reconciliation. And at the end, after going down for three days, He came up in His resurrection and up into the right hand of God where He sits ruling and reigning.
And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” –I Samuel 3:10
The text says that Samuel has gone through the phases of confusion and he has now reached the phase of clarity. From confusion to clarity. That seems to be a summary of the Christian life. The chaos of our day-to-day, the voices that are constantly seeking our attention, so much happening all the time that at times we forget to hear. Samuel is ready to hear. The sins both locally and nationally that plague his nation do not keep Samuel in the state of perpetual confusion. He is finding clarity. He knows well that clarity can ultimately be found in the One who makes all things new and who brings us from chaos to community; from corruption to careful reflection. Speak, for your servant hears!
God has spoken! And as you come to eat and drink as one body, you come ready to hear. This entire service has been a systematic plan to get you to listen. And if you have listened, now you can eat in peace for God is ready to feed you and there is nothing confusing about that.
…so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed. Luke 2:35
Jesus comes so that we may receive him and reveal him in our thoughts and actions. He comes as our consolation, but also as our confrontation. He confronts us in our misery and sin and asks us to respond with pure hearts and humble voices.
Our hearts are made clean by the appearance of the God-Man whose heart revealed nothing but purity and love.
Today we eat and drink together expecting that God would reveal what is within us and in this revealing we may be found worthy of the gospel we have been called to proclaim.
What is the Lord’s Table but a family gathering? When we eat and drink together we are eating and drinking the Gospel that unites us with one another in the past, present, and future. This Gospel transcends time. It is that which brings us together. We are forming a great cloud of witness to God and to the world, and the more we eat and drink together the greater the cloud becomes. And when that cloud becomes a cloud of victory over the whole world, which sight cannot be denied by the world, Christ will return and gather this great cloud into everlasting life.
What we are doing at this table is a clear picture of what is being formed in the world—a communion of saints marching and warring against principalities and powers rejoicing and proclaiming the Lord who has made us one.
What does the Lord’s Supper mean for us as a people? It means so much to the partaker that we could spend a thousand years and yet not fully cover its wonder and splendor. The reason the Lord’s Table says so much to the people of God is because it is given by our Lord. This is not a Reformed table, it is the Lord’s Table, and it is an open table to all baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And as an open table, it communicates all that is true about Christ—his power, his grace, and his mercy; it is communicates all that is good about Christ—his provision, his desire to complete the work He started in us; and it communicates the beauty of Christ—his majesty, his love for His saints.
The Lord’s Table means that Christ is true to His promises, good to His people, and lovely to those who put their trust in Him.
So, come and dine, infant and aged, weak and strong, this table is true, good, and beautiful, and the Lord invites us to join in this meal!
“Come and have breakfast.”
My P.E. teacher in college always stressed that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.” I confess I have not followed those words too well.
What Christ established for us in that simple breakfast was a type of what he would convey before His ascension. A new day, a new meal, a new world. That’s the slogan of the New Covenant. And this is where we are gathered. Here we are in this new day, called the Lord’s Day; the day set aside by God for his people to come and gather and worship. A new meal: a glorified feast to partake of the One who is our bread and our wine. A new creation: the celebration of God’s people in a world where death is no longer king, but is a slave to the king of life, Jesus Christ. This risen King says to us, “come and eat.” The fire of the Spirit is here. Come and find warmth in Me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Come and eat!
“The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.”
Adam’s acceptance of Eve’s role reverses his rejection of his wife earlier. He chose to restore community with his wife, rather than pursue the game of blame. The pain endured by all the women in the Old Covenant came to an end in the last Eve of the Old Covenant, Mary. Eve, then, is the mother of all living. She is the mother of life and from that life, Jesus, life is given to all those united to him.
This morning it is the Supper that restores community. The meal Adam and Eve shared at the Tree of Knowledge destroyed their community, even though it had the outward marks of community. The meal we share with Jesus restores all true community in the bond of the Spirit. This meal is an affirmation that the Seed of the Woman is our life.
“Because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord.” (Phil. 3:8)
The worth of knowing Messiah as Lord is greater than any human deed. Nothing is compared to this relational, covenantal union we have with our Lord.
This reminds me of the story my mentor once told me of a bright seminary graduate who came before examination by the examining committee. He sat there at his desk full of confidence. His Greek New Testament and Hebrew Bible were wide open. He had passed his written exams with flying colors. The entire presbytery was eager to hear this genius relate the glories of theology in intricate ways. The examination began when an old seminary professor who was about to retire looked at the candidate and asked: “Young man, do you love Jesus?” Silence. More silence. Now the young scholar’s face turned into every imaginable color. Then more silence.
The old professor looked to the head of the examining committee and proposed that the examination be terminated and that the young man return again in six months. All agreed.
Brothers and sisters, as you come to eat and drink with one another, do not allow that simple question to be answered by your silence. Come and dine that your answer might be strengthened and not silenced.
…the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have goo news preached to them (Mat. 11:5).
The prophet of the New World is here and his name is Jesus, the Christ. The prophet bids us come and dine with him.
He gives us a table of certainty. Here Christ gives himself for his sheep. Here we see clearly more so than our first century forefathers that the Son of God brings a kingdom that shall have no end. But beyond that, this table is for us a memorial of mercy. It was nothing but the grace of God that caused the hand of God to extend us mercy rather than doom. We are recipients of the body and blood of Jesus not because of our loveliness, but because Christ in the incarnation of love willingly gave of himself to us. We have received the objective pardon from the true prophet of Israel, and that pardon comes through death and resurrection. Let us dine with One who gave us sight, made us to walk into newness of life, cleansed us by the washing of water and word, gave us ears to hear, raised us from the dead, and preaches good news to us.