Saturday, August 27, 2011

A table prepared by the Lord

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5)

Preparing a table for someone is a gift to them of friendship, love and concern. You set out pretty dishes, silverware and a beautiful table covering. You spend time on the food you prepare.

Metaphorically Jesus has laid out an abundant table for all of his children. God doesn’t just feed us, he has prepared the place where we will dine. But, ‘prepared the table in the presence of our enemies,’ why would he do that?

Derek Kidner likens such a statement to a victory banquet where defeated foes are forced to attend. And this is truly a paradox.

The picture is an image of our reality as believers. The reality of living under the Lordship of Christ means that like him we have enemies. In his high priestly prayer Jesus reminds the Father that, “I have given them your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of this world.” (John 17:14)

Jesus, leaving his disciples in the midst of the world, in fact sending them into the world, asks the Father to keep them from the evil one. And he asks that his disciples be sanctified in the truth.

John Calvin writes of our union with Christ and how we are constantly nourished in that union. He connects this to the Lord’s Supper which is a sign and a seal of that continuous nourishment. The table is that place of communion, joy and assurance. It is our life hid in Christ. So the paradox; the enemies that trouble and plague us are the defeated ones. In our seeming defeat, they are defeated.

Enemies, whether human or un-human (rulers, powers, world forces of this darkness, spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places -Eph 6:12) can trouble you, insult you, even harm you but they can never touch your life in Christ; you will sit forever supping with the Lamb while they can only look on in defeat. In Christ we have an abundant supply for a constant and continuing feast.

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