Monday, April 12, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Dinner

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me.”
– Matthew 26:23 (NLT)

Have you noticed the Bible talks a lot about meals? I’m not complaining by any means. This girl loves her food and even more so when I can enjoy that food in the company of good friends or family. Gathering together, especially for meals has always been a great way to connect with others and, much like Biblical times, many significant events happen around a table.

In the Bible we see that sharing a meal together is one of the primary ways relationships are established, deepened, and enjoyed both with God and with others. Old Testament prophets often compared life in the new heavens and earth with the picture of a divine banqueting table. In the New Testament, we regularly find Jesus “reclining” at a table during His earthly ministry, engaging with real people, furthering His kingdom work, fostering true community, demonstrating reconciliation with God, and building genuine fellowship among His disciples.

While we see that eating or gathering together is important, what might be more important is who we gather with. If we are going to establish, deepen and enjoy relationships around the table there must be others at the table. And who those people are matters. In fact, we can often tell a lot about a person by the people they hang around with. Typically, we tend to gather with people who are a lot like us – think like us, believe like us, maybe look like us, etc.

This got me thinking about those Jesus fellowshipped with while He was on earth. Jesus loved to hang out with people that made the Pharisees uncomfortable. It’s part of what got Him killed. Certainly, when you look at his closest crew, they were people that if we simply looked on the surface, might make us scratch our heads.

My study Bible has a chart that lists occupations, qualities and traits of the disciples and it’s somewhat comical to read through. Among the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ was Matthew the despised tax collector, James described as short-tempered and judgmental, Thomas the doubter, and Peter who was impulsive and disowned Christ three times. Yet they were all part of His ride or die crew – the ones He went everywhere with! It makes me feel good to read some of the people Jesus chose to spend time with – it gives me hope that maybe, in spite of my less-than-stellar traits, He would choose to spend time or share a meal with me too.

But, let’s not forget Judas, the betrayer. He too was in Jesus’s inner circle, part of His ride or die team. Judas was there for the miracles and the ministry. He saw the healings and heard Christ’s teaching. And he also had a seat at the table with Jesus many times during His ministry, including at the Last Supper. In fact, if we read the entire account of the Last Supper in the Matthew 26:20-30, we see in verse 25 that Jesus lets Judas know that He knows Judas will betray Him. Yet none of the disciples do or say anything in reaction to this statement. This would lead you to believe that Judas was sitting very close to or right next to Jesus at the table during the Last Supper—close enough for Jesus to say this and no one else to hear.

I also find it fascinating that the disciples were asking “Am I the one, Lord?” This indicates the disciples had no clue who the betrayer was and that they each knew they had the potential to be unfaithful, to be a betrayer, to Jesus as well. In fact, it wasn’t long after that they scattered and even denied knowing Jesus. If we are honest, we all have the capacity to be unfaithful, a bad friend. Recognizing this should prompt us to extend understanding and offer grace when others let us down and, yes, even invite them to our table.

Their questions also tell us that Jesus must not have treated Judas any differently during their time together. Nobody suspected Judas was the betrayer because, despite knowing that Judas would betray him, Jesus loved and treated Judas the same way He did the rest of the disciples. Every meal they shared, every conversation they had, every road they walked together Jesus knew Judas would betray Him, yet Jesus never treated Judas any differently.

Let’s be honest, how many of us would dine at the table with a person that we knew was going to betray us and hand us over to die? And how many of us would bend down before them and wash their dirty, dusty feet as we discover Jesus did in John’s account of the Last Supper?

Until we learn how to sit at the table with people who are like Judas, we’ll never fully understand the love of Jesus. If we want to love like Jesus and not simply be loved by Him, we must figure out how to reconcile our differences and personal agendas and accept everyone at our table – the person who votes differently than we do, the person who looks differently than we do, the person who loves differently than we do. We must learn how to sit at the table with our “Judas” and love them like Jesus did.

Let’s Pray: Loving Savior, thank You for Your unconditional love and abounding grace that You offer freely for everyone. Help me to search myself and locate those places where I am holding back love or withholding grace so I can open up the floodgates allowing both to flow without restraint. I want to open my heart to others without reservation, without hesitation and without inhibition so I am a vessel for Your overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love. In Jesus’s mighty name I pray. Amen. 

*Note from Alexis: Cyndi's devotional message reminds me of this "Nobody" song by Casting Crowns, featuring Matthew West. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:
Cyndi Staudt is a Jesus-loving, adrenaline junkie who is devoted to living her life for Jesus Christ until the day she is living with Him. 

With a passion for cultivating a craving for God’s Word, her devotions and Bible studies are saturated with faith and hope to stir your soul to connect with God in deeper, more intimate ways.

Through her writing she hopes to ignite your desire to read God’s Word, invite your heart to experience God’s love, and inspire you to live your live life “souled out” to the One whose love has no limits.

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