I tell you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
—Matthew 8:11, HCSB
CIRCLING BACK TO THE September prayer focus article about the “potholes” in Scripture that can bring Bible reading to a screeching halt, there are also those portions so wondrous and unbelievable that they’re unimaginable to us finite beings.
In this instance is an utterly amazing Scripture, one of the many incredible promises in God’s Word. Centered around a table, it is a future day for the ready-and-waiting redeemed watching for Him and His return: Assuredly, I say to you that He will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them (Luke 12:37, NKJV).
So much of Jesus’ earthly ministry centered around the dining table. He shared meals with His disciples, friends such as Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, and even some Pharisees. He also dined with various others, most notably the fringe of society, those tax collectors and sinners who the self-righteous religious leaders looked down upon (Mark 2:15-16). And this despite their hypocrisy, as Jesus pointed out, of turning their converts to their brand of do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do Judaism into twice as much a child of hell as yourselves (Matthew 23:15).
Just as will happen to some in a few weeks when family and friends—a few with exes, in-laws, and friends of friends—gather around the Thanksgiving table, Jesus experienced His own share of drama from others, the kind that makes us hold our breath as to what cringe-worthy thing will happen, be said, or hotly debated that day. Mere hours before His suffering and death, Jesus ate the Passover meal he “earnestly desired” to have with His disciples, a meal where they argued who would be the greatest (Luke 22:24), where Jesus told them that one of them would betray Him, and where He told Peter that Satan wanted to sift him like wheat (v. 31).
One can’t help but ponder the level of dysfunction that Jesus’ own family meals must have been like, dining with brothers that Scripture tells us disbelieved and mocked Him (John 5). Or as illustrated by this instance where after healing a man’s withered hand, and crowds began to press in on Him so much so that He was unable to eat, that Jesus’ family went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21).
In Jesus’ substitutionary death for our salvation, we received the golden ticket to the banquet of all ages at the Father’s forever table in heaven. We the redeemed, coming from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 7:9), will be waited on and served by the Lamb of God Himself. We the redeemed, from our former notoriety as prodigals, sinners apart from God (Luke 15:11-32), sharing a meal together at the table we all long to be at. A table without strife or contention, where we kids of the Father, and siblings with one another, are at a thanksgiving table unlike any other. It’s because then we will finally be like Him because we will see Him as He is, face to face (1 John 3:2).
It is an indescribable, fathomless mystery why the Lamb of God, who will one day receive the long overdue praise and worship He alone deserves from all of creation as pictured in Revelation 5, serves us at that coming banquet. Why so?
Perhaps it’s a reminder that our presence there holds no trace of what we did but focuses on the God of love who came to die for us and came to serve. As we consider the coming day when we will feast at the forever table in the kingdom of our God, what are the ways we can emulate Him by serving others as He serves us?