June 14, 2014

Jesus invites us to a feast

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies . . .” (Psalm 23:5)

David wrote this psalm, but there is no record of when or any particular occasion for it. For the above line, he may have been thinking about the time his own son, Absalom, rebelled against him and threatened his life. David and his followers fled to the wilderness and were without resources . . .

When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat, for they said, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.” (2 Samuel 17:27–29)

These men were from areas not always friendly to Israel, but God used them to prepare a table for David in their presence. He must have been astonished and remembered this demonstration of God’s love that was stronger than the dislike of his enemies.

God’s provision for His people takes another form equally as astonishing. For our greatest need, He came to earth in human form and offered Himself as our substitute, taking upon Himself our sin and dying on a cross that we could be declared righteous, “not by works of righteousness that we have done, but by His mercy He saved us.” (Titus 2:5)

For many, this is too astonishing, too unreal. It is human to want to provide for ourselves, to earn the favor of God. However, salvation is not based on what we do. It is a gift to be received, and a gift to be continually remembered. Like David’s unexpected feast, we are hungry, weary, and thirsty in the wilderness of sin, but God has prepared a table before us, a table of remembrance . . .

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23–26)

The elements of bread and wine remind us of His sacrifice, but that is not the only ‘food’ on the table. In this passage (one long sentence in the original Greek), Paul writes the menu of the feast that Jesus provides . . .

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3–14)

Even in trying to underline the main menu items, I realize that the blessings of God could take pages and pages to list. His table is truly a banquet and “all you can eat” for those who know the loving care of this amazing Shepherd.

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