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Relationships: Sup with Me

This is the last in a series of essays examining relationships.  The essays are intended to be read in sequence.  The first three were “Is There No Hope?”, “Earthly Relationships”, and “Relationship with Jesus”, respectively.

Jimmy and Suzie

Something – someone? – in the crowd caught his attention from the corner of his eye.  Instinctively he glanced to his right.  Jimmy’s gaze locked on target.  There was something special about her.  She was radiantly beautiful.  Perfectly petite, standing in her neat little dress, long blond hair falling onto her shoulders.  She was talking to a friend totally unaware of his presence, her attention riveted on her friend.  He tried to turn away and busy himself with his friends, but he could not ignore her.  It was as if he had bitten on a hook that caught in his heart and now she was just reeling him in.  Funny, she didn’t even know he existed – or did she?  He started to walk away, but after two steps he halted.  He had to at least meet her, and maybe get to know her.

He screwed up his courage, walked over, introduced himself, and struck up a conversation with her.  It seemed so easy, so natural, as if they had known each other since the beginning of time.  He asked her out to dinner.  She accepted.  They had a great time over dinner.  They exchanged stories about their childhood, their lives, their dreams; they joked and laughed.  They ate food together, and they tasted life together.

Afterwards he asked her to a second dinner.  Then a third, fourth, and many more.  Each dinner was more enchanting than the previous.  Finally at one of the dinners he asked her, “Will you marry me?” and she said “Yes.”  They happily and proudly sent wedding invitations loudly proclaiming to all the world, “Jimmy and Suzie are getting married!  Come to our wedding feast.”  And both families came; they all mingled and joined as one in that festive occasion.

As a married couple they delighted in each other and continued to have dinner together each night.  They would share their day’s events over the meal, sometimes reminisce about their first meeting, sometimes talk about their dreams, and sometimes make plans for the future.

Then he changed jobs to pay the bills.  The new job was more demanding, and he would often work late.  Dinners together became more and more infrequent.  Late arrivals home became the norm.  When he came home he was so tired he would just go to sleep.  First they stopped talking, then they started to drift apart.  And finally one day, while he was on a business trip, something – someone? – in the crowd caught his attention from the corner of his eye.  Instinctively he glanced…

How often do we hear such stories of relationships starting out strong, then slowly unraveling under the pressure of daily life?  How often do we hear stories of couples ceasing to spend time together, not consuming life together, then finally ceasing communication altogether and finally separating?

Sharing (Communion)

“Sitting down to a meal together draws a line around us,” says Miriam Weinstein, author of The Surprising Power of Family Meals. “It encloses us and, for a brief time, strengthens the bonds that connect us with other members of our self-defined clan, shutting out the rest of the world.”[1]

A wealth of studies and reports confirm the importance of sharing meals together.[2]  Regrettably most articles narrowly focus on the positive effects of family meals on children’s nutrition, parent-child relationships, and children’s maturation.  Some may include a comment or two about the social and relational aspects and benefits of the family meal.  But the connection between food and communion[3] (the act of building a relationship) is rarely studied; nevertheless it is as fundamental to human nature and culture as breathing is to life.  This is not an American phenomenon, not a European phenomenon, but a human phenomenon that is independent of culture and time.  Just consider how

  • In virtually every romantic movie, story, or book the dinner date is an essential part of relationship building.
  • A meal together is oftentimes the essential element required to seal business deals.
  • A wedding feast is really nothing but a dinner date between two families, the replication on a larger social scale of that first romantic personal dinner date between the new husband and wife.
  • The chocolate creations of a young mother can change the lives of an entire village in the novel and subsequent movie, “Chocolat”.
  • Queen Esther saved the Jews from being totally annihilated by King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I) in the Bible.  But first she hosted the King to a lavish feast she prepared in his honor; then she made her successful request to the King for deliverance.  The Jews now commemorate that event as the Feast of Purim.

Sharing meals together is clearly a critical element of maintaining human relationships.  It is a great barometer of the health of that relationship.  After all, people who like each other will make a special effort to spend time together, and what better way to spend time than to eat, talk, and share openly when all guards are down – to commune in short.  What better way to demonstrate a loving attitude than by offering and sharing a meal?  Everyone loves to eat, and everyone loves to be loved!

But the objective of this essay is not to extol the virtues of sharing meals, nor is it to help serve better family dinners – although both are admirable objectives.  Rather the objective is to examine how we can apply these same principles to strengthen our relationship with Jesus.

Jesus

Christianity is unique in its assertion that man can – and actually must – have an intimate personal relationship with the Creator.  Furthermore the initiator of this personal relationship is not man but God himself.  This is Jesus’ personal invitation to you and me:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Rev 3:20)

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. (Joh 6:35)

Jesus Christ the Creator obviously is inviting us to a private dinner.  He is asking you and me out on a date!  We know what that means.  Based on personal experience we surely know that the purpose of such a private dinner is to commune – to build a lasting relationship and to experience life in community – with each other.  Jesus clearly is asking to build such a relationship with each one of us and to fill all our needs in the process.

Let us now examine that private dinner with Jesus.  Let us examine the implications of being asked on such a date.

Dating (Do you remember?)

Do you remember the first time you and your spouse went on a date?
Do you remember the first dates, how thrilling it was to be together?
Do you remember how you hung on each other’s every word, every movement?
Do you remember how your newfound love could do no wrong, could tell no lie, and everything he/she said was hilarious or profound?
Do you remember how all you could talk about to your friends was about your newfound love?
Do you remember how you couldn’t stand being separated; how even a few hours separate seemed like eternity?
Do you remember dreaming of your future spouse before going to sleep, and daydreaming the moment you woke up?
Do you remember sitting across a dinner table, talking about nothing significant, staring into each other’s sparkling eyes, just basking in each others’ presence and in the joy of the moment?

Do you remember?

We all vividly remember incredible details about the beginning of our relationship with our spouses.  We remember how we could not spend a waking moment apart from each other because it was sheer torture.  Our entire lives revolved around pleasing our newfound love.  Men would clean up the car that had never been washed; women would get expensive beauty treatments just to be pleasing.

And the shared dinners, oh what exquisite delight they were – no matter the quality of the food!  The only important thing was the company.  Nothing else mattered.

That, my dear friends, is exactly the relationship Jesus is seeking to establish with each of us when He asks us out to a private dinner.  He is not seeking a one night stand.  He is not seeking till death do us part.  He is seeking “always and forever.” He is seeking to fill that void in our hearts, that elusive “something” we search for all our lives but cannot find, always and forever.

Always and forever.  Always and forever, with never a moment missed, never a heartbeat lost, never a second of separation, never an instant of conflict.  Perfect communion always and forever.  He is seeking that perfect dinner date, that perfect relationship which never tires and never tarnishes because it’s a first date always and forever with each one of us individually.  How do we know?  Because He said so in his letter to the Church at Ephesus:

“I know your works, … and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works,…  (Rev 2:2-5)

He has called you to sup with Him.  Are you willing?  He is knocking at the door right now.  Will you answer?

The Lord’s Suppers

The Bible records many instances of Jesus supping with His friends, but none of them are described in terms of the dreamy-eyed fiancée.  Jesus supped with huge groups, with individuals, with small groups.  He invited some, and He was invited by some.  There are

  • 5 instances during His earthly ministry (3 with multitudes and 2 with Pharisees)[4]
  • The night before He was crucified (The Lord’s Supper)[5]
  • 5 instances after His resurrection.  (All with the disciples at various times)[6]

During Earthly Ministry

There were 5 recorded instances of dining during His earthly ministry.  In each one Jesus had compassion and fulfilled the needs of his companions.  He healed them.  He touched them. He communed with them.  He taught them.  He loved them.  He forgave them.  He fed them and quenched their hunger, physically and spiritually.  Some responded; others did not.

When Jesus saw an unperceived need for spiritual correction, He addressed that need as well.  For example, two of the dinners were at the invitation of the Pharisees where Jesus pointed out His hosts’ sins, for they were blind to them.  Jesus knew that forgiveness requires repentance, and repentance requires recognition of sin.  He knew that a man blind to his own sin cannot be saved because he cannot recognize that he is a sinner.  But Jesus knew the Pharisees’ need and met the need by pointing out the sin.  They did not respond, however.

Jesus is serious about His invitation to you, too, and wants to do the same for you.  He is waiting to meet all your needs, if you just respond to His call.

What will the first dinner with Jesus be like?  Probably like the dinners with the Pharisees because most of us are blind to our own sins.  So don’t be surprised if you receive a scolding.  It’s given in need and love.  Accept it graciously, repent, and sin no more; then watch your relationship blossom like a rose.

The Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion)

The night He was betrayed, Jesus was hosting an intimate Passover meal with his twelve disciples.  They reclined around a table; shared food from community bowls; prayed and sang hymns to God; undoubtedly shared experiences, feelings, and concerns; asked questions of the Master; most likely laughed together; and they enjoyed each other’s company.   Undoubtedly it was proceeding like a wonderful Thanksgiving family dinner would proceed today.

Then Jesus announced that one of them was to betray Him; that He would be stricken and the apostles would scatter; and that He would go ahead and meet them in Galilee.

Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of 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 which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. (Luk 22:17-20)

“Do this in remembrance of me,” He commanded.  Do what in remembrance of Him?  Repeat the ritual of the bread and wine each Passover?  If not, then what is Jesus saying?  What are we to do?  We find the answer back in Matthew when Jesus was teaching the twelve about the Kingdom of Heaven:

Jesus stated, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Mat 18:20)[7]

He is saying, “If two or three of you invite me to sup with you, I’ll be there always.  And the best way to invite me to sup with you is to remember who I am, remember what I did for you, remember what I taught you, remember how I love you, remember my promise to you, remember that I am with you always and forever.

“Remember everything you learned about me.  Lock it in your heart and never forget because my commitment to you is always and forever.  And to help you remember all these things, meditate on them whenever you eat bread and drink wine with supper.  Don’t just guzzle the food, but meditate about me.  When you do that, I will be there in your heart; we will commune; we will sup together; and our friendship will become stronger.”  Conversely, when we fail to do that, our relationship will wither, as it did for Jimmie and Suzie and for the Church of Ephesus.

That, my dear friends, is why some people call it “Holy Communion”:  Because we are supping with the Holy One of Israel.  We are on a dinner date with Jesus, our beloved.  Therefore let us treat Him as such.  He is here to fill that void in our hearts, to love us, to fulfill our every need, to guide us, and to strengthen us.

Post Resurrection

The Bible records five instances when Jesus either ate or supped after His resurrection.  In all instances He appeared to two or more people.  There are two reasons for this:  (1)  The Bible requires two or more witnesses for credible proof.  (2)  Jesus said that whenever two or more are gathered together in His name, He is there in the midst of them.

All were intimate occasions with His disciples.  In all instances He was not recognized until He said something familiar, such as “Peace to you,” or did something familiar such as breaking bread at the Lord’s Supper.  These instances are indicative of how He sups with us.

The incident on the road to Emmaus is fascinating:  Jesus joined two disciples walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a journey of about two hours.  During this journey He conducted an in depth Bible study on Messianic prophecy, yet they did not recognize Him until he supped and broke bread with them. (Luk 24:29)

In another account Jesus appears to the eleven as they were reclining and eating, rebuked them for their unbelief, and commanded them to go out into the world to proclaim the Gospel (Mar 16:14-18)

In a third incident, He was waiting with fish on the fire for the disciples to return from a hard night’s work, but they did not recognize Him until He invited them to join Him for Breakfast.  (Joh 21:3-14)

We may be supping with Jesus unawares.  We never know when we entertain angels, or perhaps Jesus Himself:

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Heb 13:2)

If we sup with a friend and invite Jesus into the meal through conversation, we could be supping with Jesus – we may experience Him through our companion, or perhaps through a thought, a saying, a new perspective on an old situation.  He may appear suddenly, like a flash of insight.

That’s exactly what happened with the disciples, too.  They talked with Him, walked with Him, and physically saw Him. but they didn’t recognize Him until He wanted to be recognized.  He looked like the gardener to one, a stranger to another, and so on.

Do you sup with Jesus?  How often?  Only once a month at church during Holy Communion?  Do you ever invite Him into the conversation over dinner?  He is always there, waiting to join in.  How often do you think of Him, meditate on Him during the day?  Is He your special new love, or have you grown cold like the Ephesians and slowly separated like Jimmy and Suzie?  When was the last time you allowed Him to enter your world?  When was the last time the two of you communed?

Every day one has to work on the relationship with a spouse.  Every day one must make that special effort to reach out, connect, and share with the spouse lest the relationship get hard and brittle, and finally break.  How much more important to work on the relationship with Jesus the same way!

Do you just say a perfunctory grace before a meal and dive in without inviting Jesus to sup with you?  Do you even say grace?  He is there, in the midst of you, waiting for a conversation.  How would you feel at a family dinner if everyone around you were having a grand time conversing and communing, but no one said a word to you, no one ever even looked your way – as if you didn’t exist.  Does Jesus exist to you?  Is He real, or just a Sunday school figure?  Do you sup with Him?  I know I don’t; not often enough.

The Dinner Date

Remember the days of old, the days of your first dinner date.  Remember your first love and keep it alive lest it die of starvation.  When you went on the first dinner date,

  • Did you have the TV blaring during dinner?
  • Did you text at the table?
  • Were you more concerned with the stove than your spouse?
  • Were you thinking about the job and not talking?
  • Were you playing video games?
  • Were you physically there, but mentally checked out?

If you do any of these, then you are not on a dinner date with your spouse or your family.
You are not supping with them.
You are simply eating all alone.

Are you sharing life over dinner?
Or are you just an island of loneliness floating in a sea of people?
Do you talk about meaningful, interesting events in your life that day?
Do you bring your unanswered questions to the table for discussion?
Do you share your burdens with the others?  Maybe they can help with the load.
Do you use this opportunity to build consensus in the family?
Or are you an island of loneliness in a sea of people?

Supping, sharing, communing requires a conscious deliberate effort on everyone’s part.  It doesn’t just happen.  It’s work, and it needs a leader.  Someone has to start the process.  It takes bravery to step out in faith and openness.  After all, you might get hurt.  You might be ignored.  You might be rejected.  It’s so much easier to just sit back, guzzle the food, mind your own business, be done with the meal, and get on with the next task.  And that’s when the relationship is lost.

Remember.  Remember your first love, your first dinner date.  Reach back for it.  Capture it.  It’s alive within you, if you only nourish it.  Don’t starve it to death.  Don’t lose it.  Don’t…

It is the same with Jesus.  Is He your guest of honor?  If a long lost relative were to visit you, would you not put on a feast for him and pay attention to him?  If the mayor of the town came to dine with you would you not put on a feast for him and pay attention to him?  How much more so for the King of Kings, your Creator and your God!

Yet Jesus is humble and meek, He does not require fine linen, silver and china, and a five star meal.  All He requires is that you sup with Him.  Talk to Him.  Talk about Him.  Commune with Him.  Invite Him into your conversation.  He wants to be part of your life every day, not just one day a week or on one special day.  He wants more than a perfunctory hello, a quick mechanical grace.  He wants to be treated like a family member, because He is one.  He is your Father.  He is your brother.  He is your friend.  He is among you waiting to participate, but you must invite Him.  Therefore treat Him as such and watch your life change.  Watch that burdensome evening meal change into a joyous dinner date again – and again.  Watch love blossom and conquer all.  It doesn’t happen overnight, but over time Jesus will change your life into something you never expected – if you invite Him to sup with you in faith.

The Wedding Feast

All relationships either grow or die.  No relationship can remain stagnant because every interaction either adds to or detracts from the relationship.  In that sense relationships are like a joint bank account.  All parties can add or subtract from the account.  As long as both parties keep adding, the account grows; when all they do is subtract, it shrinks, ultimately runs out, and dies.  It is the same in our relationship with Jesus, except He never withdraws.  He only matches what we contribute plus a little extra each time.

Now look back at that first dinner date, that first love and how carefully you nurtured that relationship until it matured into a marriage.  Now remember the wedding feast where both families joined together as one.  Everyone ate, drank, rejoiced, mingled, danced, and had a wonderful time.  It was a moment of a lifetime – intended to be only once in a lifetime.  It was to be the beginning of a gloriously happy future joined together for life as one couple united by God.  It was so important that it had to be recorded in numerous photographs and endless videos.  Mementos, such as candle toppers, the garter, perhaps even the flowers were saved and carefully stored for future reference.  What a grand event that was!

It is the same with Jesus.  He already told us he loves us always and forever.  He already told us He wants to spend eternity united with us.  He promises to celebrate that event by including us in a wedding feast in the kingdom of heaven beyond our wildest imagination.  He promises to invite all who sup with Him now to participate in that feast and subsequently experience His eternal joy later.  But He also promises to exclude everyone from that feast who did not sup with Him in this world; all who are excluded will be cast into the outer darkness, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mat 22:1-14)

Don’t leave Jesus out of your life here on earth, lest He leave you out of His life forever and declares to you on your day of judgment, “I never knew you; depart from Me…” (Mat 7:23).  He is calling, “Come sup with Me.”  Accept His invitation.


[3] This word is rarely used today.  Its primary dictionary definition follows:  1. The act or an instance of sharing, as of thoughts or feelings. ( http://www.thefreedictionary.com/communion )

[4] Mat 14:15-21;  Mat 15:32-38;  Luk 7:36-50, 11:37-54;  Joh 65-13

[5] Mat 26:19-31;  Mar 14:16-28;  Luk 22:14-30;  Joh 13:1-17:26

[6] Mar 16:14-18;  Luk 24:30-31, 24:41-43;  Joh 21:9-12, 21:14-15

[7] Although Jesus made this statement within the context of how Christians are to deal with a brother who sins against another (verses 15-20),  Jesus does not limit His comment to such situations exclusively.  Verses 18 and 19 clearly support a more general application as interpreted in this essay.

(779)

© 2012 notasitlooks

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  1. June 7, 2013 at 10:04 am

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