WOULD, COULD, SHOULD
If you were in the upper room with Christ on the night He was about to be betrayed, what would you have been doing? What could you have been feeling? How should you have been thinking on that auspicious night? How we might answer these questions may be an indication of how we treat the sacred moments with Christ that we perhaps unknowingly participate in regularly.
"One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus' side,"
John, known as "the Beloved Disciple" had grown closest to Jesus. He, above all of the other disciples, had grown to recognise that Jesus was God in the flesh. All Twelve disciples were with Jesus in the upper room on the night Christ instituted the New Covenant meal. Initially they did not understand that this would be their last moments with Jesus before He was executed. Most of them had become distracted by two relatively infantile issues at this "last" dinner.
¶ "A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest."
These disciples had just spent at least three years following Jesus. They had heard Him speak like none other. They had witnessed Him perform the most extraordinary miracles. They had seen Him under the immeasurable pressure from critics and persecutors. They had seen the way He treated women and children with respect, dignity, and gentleness. They had marvelled at how the weather and its elements obeyed His command. They heard Peter declare under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that He was the Messiah. And they even heard from Christ's own lips that He was God in the flesh when He invoked the names and titles of God for Himself. How should one respond when sitting down at a table for a meal with such a person as this? It would include: awe, adoration, adulation, undivided attention, reverence, respect, devotion, service, worship. Although this is what they could have done, they were, instead, preoccupied with two incidental issues. The first one was the utterly irrelevant question of which of them was the greatest! (Lk. 22:24) The second question was nearly as irrelevant as the first when they wondered which of them was the worst.
The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus' side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, "Lord, who is it?"
By this stage of their walk with Christ they should have grown besotted with Jesus and sat in awe of everything He said and did. They should have marvelled at His wisdom, stood astonished at His prophetic insight, gloried in His miraculous power, and felt their hearts swell at the acts of His compassion. This night, of all nights, should have been a night where they worshiped Him and perhaps unbeknown to them, strengthened His hand for the infinitely horrible task ahead. But I can't throw stones at them. As I reflect on this one night, I ponder that I get to meet with Christ in the midst of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ each Sunday where I too should demonstrate what should be my increased besotted with Christ, and sit awe of everything He said and did, while marvelling at His wisdom, standing astonished at His prophetic insight, glorifying God for His miraculous power, feeling my heart swell with admiration for Him for how He loves and cares for people the world writes-off, as I worship Him. But all too often I don't. Shame on me. I could do something about it - I should do something about it.
How we display our devotion to Christ says as much about Jesus as it does our level of devotion. A few years ago I was blessed in a way that I am rarely blessed when I heard that one of the young teen ladies in our church, Brooke Hill, told her girlfriends that she could not participate in a sleep-over on Saturday night, because it would mean that she could not give God her best on Sunday morning in church if she was tired (as she undoubtedly would be). We should all seek to give God our best energy, our best time, our best talents, our best treasure, our best devotion. Yet sometimes, when we're primed for distraction by our Enemy we miss out on the wonderful ecstasy of fulfilling our deepest longing (to worship our Creator) because we choose to worship (have attention drawn to) that which puerilely distracts us, such as the sound not being mixed to our preference or the service time running a few minutes longer than we allow. When such Satanic schemes are successful we should surrender afresh to our God and repent.
Jesus chose a meal to pour out the most intimate things of His heart. Many people still do. Christ reminds us that meals are not so much about eating and tables are not so much about settings as meals are about conversation and tables become consecrated altars of confession, forgiveness, and healing. More families today should eat at their family dinner table without the distractions of screens and allow each family member an opportunity to talk and be heard. As a pastor, it is my hope, goal, and desire that each Sunday we might gather together as a church-family and the consecrated table of the Lord and together enjoy a meal with Him. It is my intention that we each leave this Spiritual Dining Room not only well fed but also in the knowledge that we have both been heard and heard. We would increase the depth and frequency of this happening if we could approach our time together on Sundays as if we were going to meet with Christ. We should approach our time together to meet Christ in a posture of awe, reverence, respect, adoration and undivided attention.
¶ Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
¶ Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!"
How we would regard Jesus and approach Him depends on whether we have truly seen Him and come to know who He really is. How we could regard and approach Jesus depends upon the extent to which we are distracted by things that in comparison don't matter. How we should approach and regard Jesus both privately, publicly, and collectively is with awe, deep reverence, humility, adoration, surrender and worship. And perhaps we should regard our dinner tables as the altars upon which it happens.