Long before we ever thought of God he thought of us; yes, before we had a being and time itself began, in the heart of the Eternal there were thoughts of love towards those for whom the table of his mercy is now spread.
Charles Spurgeon Sunday Morning, May 13, 1877
The Easter table is set. All things are made ready. Yet, this morning, I find myself standing before empty seats at this table I prepared for celebration. But, there is no knock at the door. There is no sharing heart to heart around this table… no giving of the abundance I am willing to bestow on those I love. A profound “knowing’ suddenly comes to me. Jesus … stands here with me: in me. He knows firsthand how I feel without those I love at my side.
From the day God saw all that He created and called it “very good”, Man – male and female – have been invited to dine at the table he has prepared. From Eden’s plenteous perfection to the boat sinking, net breaking fish catch on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus provides!
Charbroiled fish and bread, prepared by Jesus’ hands of grace, awaited the weary fisherman who would become his “fishers of men”. “Come and have breakfast,” he shouted from the shore. (John 21:12) Indeed, in that shared meal, they received “the call” that radically changed their lives and the world. Today is the same. Jesus bids his beloved to eat from the bounty He prepared for them before the foundations of the world.
Today, my table - my heart – awaits the joy of familiar voices and traditions. I can long for them. But, they will not; they cannot come. Things are still now. The whole earth is quiet. The silence allows me to hear and understand in a tangible way the sorrow of “a certain man” spoken of by Jesus in Luke 14:16-18.
“A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready’. But they all alike began to make excuses”.
Certainly, the social distancing we are subject to during Holy Week 2020 is a legitimate reason to find my table empty; yet, it is no excuse to have it remain so. For, the One who calls me by His mercy… who calls you… awaits our listening ear.
"Now pay attention; I am standing at the door and knocking. If any of you hear My voice and open the door, then I will come in to visit with you and to share a meal at your table, and you will be with Me." Revelation 3:20 The Voice
I reflect on the risen Lord appearing to the two despondent souls on the road to Emmaus. Heartsick at the news of Christ’s death, they were talking about it when Jesus - cloaking his identity – began to walk with them and question them. The conversation went like this.
“He (Jesus) asked them, ‘What are you discussing together as you walk along?’
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, ‘Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?’
‘What things?’ he asked.
‘About Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.’ He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.” Luke 24:13-35 NIV
How very amazing to sit at Jesus side … to break bread together… and come to intimately know the one revealed through the Scriptures and the Prophets as Savior and Lord! Indeed, the Risen Lord! Imagine Jesus telling them over dinner that the Old Covenant was null and void and that a new and better Covenant was obtained in His blood sacrifice alone.
“I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 6:32-35 New Living Translation
For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:40 New Living Translation
"Jesus took a piece of bread, gave a prayer of thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. “Take and eat it,” he said; “this is my body.”Then he took a cup, gave thanks to God, and gave it to them. “Drink it, all of you,” he said; “this is my blood, which seals God's covenant, my blood poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26: 26-28 New Living Translation
My friends, my table is no longer empty! I heard the knock and opened the door. Suddenly, I was reminded that I am no longer the host but the guest. Jesus… Redeemer, Deliverer, Healer, and Friend has prepared a never-ending table before me in the presence of my enemy… your enemy: Covid-19. His perfect love casts out all fear. His forgiveness fills me, and as many as will receive Him, with grace anew! My cup runs over.
Seated at the table, in the quiet solitude of Easter 2020, there is do distance between me and my Savior. We welcome you to come dine with us. Come, for everything is now ready!
Written by Charlie Fusco