First Mennonite Church
March 28, 2021
Conversations Around the Last Supper Table
Conversations around the dinner table can get quite intimate, serious, and most usually, become engraved in our memory. It’s around the table where we learn family stories and where we get good advice, all of which stays with us throughout our lives. We remember these conversations even long after those who told them have gone. These conversation continue taking place around own table with our own children, in keeping up the tradition. It is around the table where I first learned that my paternal grandfather became an orphan at an early age and that one his uncles raised him and brought him over to Belize from Guatemala. It is around the table where my mother said that the best time to prepare a child to become a good husband and father when he grows up is at least 20 years before he gets married. It is around the table where we I have had good laughs and good times with my family and friends.
John is the only gospel writer who spent a good amount of ink in his effort to tell us what happened after Jesus’ last supper with his closest of friends. Jesus knew it was going to be his last Passover meal with those he had loved and spent his entire public ministry. He knew that his hour had come and that the Romans were already closing in on him. He knew that the religious authorities had also come to the end of their tolerance towards him and had determined to put an end on his life. Jesus also knew that even one among his closest friends had determined to cooperate with Jesus’ enemies. Still yet, Jesus knew that the time had come for him to go to his Father. Jesus knew it all.
As Jesus sat around the table for that last supper with his friends, he opened his heart to them. There, he unambiguously told them he was going to die. Jesus forewarned his disciples about his impending death, even before it happened (13:19). The disciples, however, had also begun to understand the ominous signs already showing around them. The reaction from the religious authorities, the local Roman representatives, and of the crowds regarding Jesus’ latest actions, such as the resurrection of Lazarus, his bold claims about his being the life and the resurrection, his royal entrance into Jerusalem, and the cleaning of the temple, were clear enough signs to make them scared and anxious.
After the supper, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and even Peter’s, despite his initial protest. Jesus also predicted the betrayal of one among his own, which greatly troubled everyone, except Judas. Every one of them was asking Jesus, “Is it me, Lord?” Still yet, Jesus predicted Peter’s denial, even when he was promising to lay down his life for Jesus. Peter was much distressed by that revelation.
In chapter 13, verse 36, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?” Therefore, in chapter 14, Jesus began to comfort his very troubled disciples and he also responded Peter’s question.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Jesus knew where he was going to. First, he knew his death was not the end. He knew he was going to the Father and to prepare a place where he would gather his disciples to be with him.
Peter’s question, “Lord, where are you going?” revealed a lot about that moment of intimate conversation between Jesus and his loved ones. Peter came to the realization that from then on nothing was going to be the same. Jesus was leaving them. Therefore, on the one hand Peter was so desperate he did not want to lose track of Jesus. Peter wanted to at least know where Jesus might go and where Peter might find him. It was only around the Last Supper table where Peter came to realize that he had no light, no life, and no hope without Jesus. It was only during that Last Supper where Peter came to understand how bonded he had become to his Lord.
On the other hand, Peter’s question is also our question. We are all searching for Jesus. I would not be here and you either, if it were not for our quest of finding and encountering with the one in whom we have our found that our very lives depend on him, that we would not have hope if not for his life, death and resurrection. We are here because we have come to realize that out there, everywhere, darkness rules and darkness keeps in prison those in whom Jesus’ light has not shone. We have found that he is our light and however small of a ray of it we see, is enough to give us hope and guidance. It is because we too are looking for Jesus that we are here and ready to eat his flesh and drink his blood in the communion elements.
Jesus’ last supper with his disciples was in many ways an unrepeatable event. That is why it is called the “Last Supper.” Yet, at the same time, the Last Supper is an event, which in some way, is repeated time and time again. The Eucharist or Holy Communion, as we will celebrate this morning, is somehow a repetition of Jesus’ Last Supper. It is where we receive the bread, presenting the body of Christ Jesus and the wine, representing his blood. Therefore, we are participating of the table of the Lord, who dispenses to us his love and grace. It is around the Communion Table where we hear his words of comfort and assurance. It is around the table where he also confronts us with the truth and reality of the times we are living in. It around the table where Jesus forewarns of the dangers of backtracking and denying him as he did to Peter. But it is also around the table of the Lord where we are drawn closer to him, who is our light, life, and hope.
On the other hand, we cannot read or participate in the Last Supper without being reminded of our own last suppers. Time will come when we will sit around a table with our closest and dearest for the last time. But our last suppers, contrary to Jesus’, might happen without our knowing it would be our last. Which, in one way, is sad because if we knew it would be our last, we would make every effort to at least be careful of what we say to our loved ones or we would speak with our heart opened to them. We would tell our wife, husband and our children how much we love them. In the same manner, if those who sit with us around the table would know that it would be their last time having us with them, they would become all ears to what we tell and not take for granted seeing our faces or hearing the words we say.
I want to invite you to come at the Lord’s Table. Hear tender voice of love and of warning. Be comforted to know that our sitting around his table is because he revealed himself to us. Rest assured in knowing that just as he faced death with the clear knowledge about where he was going, we too now know where we will go when our day comes. He is the life and the resurrection, as we will celebrate next Sunday. Amen!