Whose Supper Is It?

It had all been arranged. The first ones there had found everything just as He had said, so they prepared the Passover meal, but with an undercurrent of unrest.

   It was the beginning of the end. But it was not the end of the status quo that they feared. They had known no status quo for three years and had come to enjoy, instead, the freedom and security of His constant leadership.

   No, they feared the return to a status quo existence. Uncontrollably, old questions crept back into their consciousness. Are the nets still in storage? In what condition? How will I buy the boat? What's the going price in the marketplace? Will they still be hiring tax collectors? None of the prospects were pleasing — like being sucked back into reality after an idyllic dream.

   But once everybody had arrived and they were all reclining around the table, they pushed these thoughts aside, wanting most of all to remember this evening. They looked long into the faces surrounding them, their minds snapping mental pictures

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in the warm glow of the candlelight. They knew it would never be the same again.

   It was a night for reminiscing. The first journey with Him. The first time they realized who He was. Their first time out ... two by two.

    It was a night for laughter. Well-turned phrases were turned once more. Personal idiosyncrasies were bantered about, and they each found comfort in the humor of one another's humanness. The camaraderie was strong. Three years had been a long time.

   Once in a while the laughter would be uncomfortably boisterous and then, in the split-second stillness that followed, they would once again feel the foreboding undertow that pulled at their thoughts.

   Suddenly, it was a night of bewilderment. "What? A betrayer on the inside? Is it I, Lord?"

   "Whatever you must do, do it quickly."

   Most of all, it was a night to remember — a night we're still remembering.

   A cup went by ... something about His last taste of wine until the kingdom. And then the bread. He always broke it for them, but this time He said it was His body. They winced, as He tore at it again and again, and swallowed hard as their portion went down.

   Then it was deathly silent, and all eyes were on Him. He lifted the vessel and poured another cup of the deep purple liquid. Then He held it up and said, "Drink from it. All of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

   The cup went slowly to each mouth, then passed on from hand to hand as if it were far heavier than it appeared. They would not have gone through with this had He not commanded them to do so, for they feared the taste of all that lay ahead. They wanted to stop this moment — to hold it in the cup forever. Instead, they endured slow, hesitating sips under quick glances from reddened eyes.

   And then they sang a hymn and went out into the night . . .

   Today in churches across America, we have somehow managed to compress this whole evening into a tiny wafer and a

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plastic thimble of Welch's grape juice. Instead of looking into someone's eyes, we look at stained glass or the reflection of church lights in our tiny circle of juice. The closest human contact we have have in this moment is the back of someone's head.

   I grew up trying to make something mystical out of this — trying to somehow find something deep and spiritually meaningful in an inch of grape juice. I see now why I found nothing: the remembrances of that first night were born amidst the warmth and intimacy of human experience, but today's Christians are barred from freely expressing their humanity.

   Let's face it, humanness has gotten a bad rap from the Church for at least a few hundred years. The body is evil and full of sin, the physical world is no good, and "sex" has become a dirty word. The further we can get away from our humanity, the better off we are.

   Isn't it ironic that we are trying to escape what God came to affirm? God came to be human, but we're missing our humanity by trying to be divine.

   It's time to stop this silliness and run up our I'm-a-human-being-and-I-like-it flag. Let's allow Jesus to walk with us through all the nooks and crannies of human experience. He's very familiar with them. He's been through this before.

   In fact, He likes being a human being; he thought up the idea. He created us, and then He became one of us so He could redeem us. He is still working on that very thing now, through every event in our lives — the joys and sorrows, the laughter and the tears, through the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. He wants the words He spoke in the beginning to once again resound amid the daily reality of our lives . . . "It is good."

   Is the Lord's Supper the one that's served up on a cold pew next Sunday at 11:00? What about the meal I'll have tonight with my wife and children around the table? Whose supper is that?

Chapter 15  ||  Table of Contents