Life before the pandemic seems like such a blur. Not just because of how the world as we knew it completely changed, but because my own life changed so dramatically during the pandemic as well. While on lockdown, my husband and kids and I moved into a new house, had major job changes, and in case that wasn’t exciting enough, we also added a brand new baby to our family!
My parents came over to watch the kids and Jake and I drove an hour to a friend’s house for a French-themed dinner party. It was to be the first of several themed dinner parties with the group, with each night inspired by a place we had been or dreamed of going to someday. We were good friends with the host and his wife, but everyone else would be new friends in the making. I was excited and nervous, but most of all, I was totally pumped to be going to a grown-up function with my husband!
The evening was perfect. It was like something out of a scene from a romantic comedy. We all ate and laughed, listened to music, and played games. Everyone seemed right at home and everyone felt like they belonged, despite all coming from a broad variety of backgrounds and life experiences. It was the kind of evening that made you forget to check your phone, you were just having so much fun in the moment.
And perhaps I’m remembering it with slightly rose-tinted glasses because I know now what I did not then. It would be the last dinner with these friends for a long time. Just a month or two later, the world as we knew it seemed to turn upside down.
Even though we only had one evening with that particular group of people, my husband and I still remember it with such affection. There’s just something about breaking bread with folks that breaks down barriers and allows you to connect in a meaningful way. And the experience is one that lingers in your memory the way a sweet perfume hangs in the air.
Meals together have been significant from the very beginning. All throughout the Bible, God enters into covenant relationships with His people in order to rescue them. And one of the ways He keeps those covenant promises fresh in the hearts and minds of His people is through meals.
God called Israel to observe certain special meals throughout the year to continually remind His people of the covenants He has established with them. Time and time again, even though the Israelites fell woefully short on their end of the covenant, God remained faithful, pouring out His love and forgiveness on an undeserving people. The meals served as an intentional opportunity for God’s people to praise Him, be thankful, remember His love and goodness, and repent of anything that is separating them from life with God.
The Passover feast was just such a meal, and the Jewish people celebrated it every year with a symbolic supper of lamb, unleavened bread, and wine to remind them of the Exodus story and how God miraculously rescued them from slavery in Egypt. The lamb was especially symbolic because it was the blood of a lamb painted over the doorways of the Israelites that spared them from death, and from the final plague that convinced their captor Pharaoh to set them free.
The night before He was crucified, Jesus shared the Passover meal with His disciples. These poor guys had no idea that the world as they knew it was about to turn upside down. There was no way they could know then, what we know now: that this would be their Last Supper with Jesus for a long time.
But Jesus did, and He was about to introduce a new covenant that would change everything, once and for all.
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
I can picture them all around the table, with the Passover feast spread out on the table, the smell of food and spices hovering in the air. In my mind I can hear the din of several conversations all happening at once, talking and laughing, remembering what the Lord had done long ago in Egypt and how He saved His people, and recalling Jesus’ miracles like that time He calmed the storm or raised Lazarus from the dead. I imagine John pulling up the seat right next to Jesus, scooting in as close as possible to hear what He would say and I can almost see Peter, laughing confidently, believing without a doubt that King Jesus would lead them victoriously through any battle. After all, he saw Jesus walk on water and even took a few shaky steps of his own on the waves with Jesus. There was nothing Jesus couldn’t do.
I don’t think they ever could have imagined that Jesus would soon present Himself as the sacrificial Lamb of God. Or that it would be His blood that would be poured out this time and His body that would be broken like the very bread He shared with them that evening. Had they known what was coming, I wonder if they would have lingered a little longer, or leaned in a little closer, hanging on every word Jesus said.
Over a simple meal, Jesus invited His disciples to participate in the most incredible covenant God has ever initiated. A new covenant that would give life and freedom like they had never known. Jesus would be the ultimate sacrifice that would forever establish the forgiveness of sins and reconcile all people to God for all time. Through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, death would not just pass over us all, it would be defeated forever. The bondage of sin would be broken and eternal life in the Kingdom of God would be made available once again.
But the invitation wasn’t just for the disciples, it is for us as well. As Jesus broke the bread and passed the cup around to His disciples, He invited them to remember Him, knowing one day we would share in this meal and this covenant too.
As followers of Christ, when we take the Lord’s Supper, we remember and participate in the power of Jesus’ life. We celebrate this new covenant and are intimately connected to what God has done in the past, is doing now in the present, and will do in the future. The God that transcends all space and time wasn’t just picturing the 12 disciples sitting around that table, He was picturing you, and me. It was His love for us then and now that drove Him willingly to the cross, so we could gather around the supper table each week, and stand in His victory, love, and power.
We have been given access to the very same power that brought Jesus back from the dead and we are transformed and renewed to be more and more like Him. It is nothing short of a miracle.
And as wonderful as this meal is, it is not the final meal that Jesus has prepared for us. Jesus has promised that He will return and then He will invite people from every nation, tongue and tribe to dinner and we will sit at the table that He has prepared for us all and enjoy an eternally life-giving meal in His presence.
And when we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we anticipate that final glorious feast. Shara Drimalla from the Bible Project says it beautifully, “The meal serves as a taste of what is to come—a taste of true life. As we practice this new covenant meal, may it stir within us hope for his return and thankfulness for who he is and what he has done.”
So this Easter, pull up a seat close to Jesus, hang on His every word and remember what He has done. Sit in sweet fellowship with God’s people and invite others to join you. Laugh, share memories, and look forward to what is coming. Jesus is Risen and He is coming back again with an invitation to dinner.