The Three Tables in Luke

We tend to think of the Lord’s Supper as only being linked to the Last Supper, where Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples. At that meal, Jesus broke bread and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Then he took the cup and said, “This is the new covenant in my blood.”

But only linking the Lord’s Supper to the Last Supper misses the deep connections throughout Luke’s gospel. Israel already had a deep connection with the Passover to the whole of Israel’s story–from Creation, to the Flood, the Exodus, the crossing of the Jordan into the promised land, and beyond. God was with His people from the very beginning of time, acting as a forgiving Father who loves, redeems, and renews his people.

In John Mark Hicks’ book Enter the Water Come to the Table, he rightly says, “At table, Jesus receives sinners and confronts the righteous. At table, Jesus extends grace to seekers but condemns the self-righteous. Jesus eats with ‘others’ to introduce them to the kingdom. . . The table is missional, communal, and hospitable” (pg. 48).

Luke records three times where Jesus messiah is host at the table–the feeding of the 5,000 in Luke 9, the Last Supper in Luke 22, and the post resurrection meal in Luke 24. In all three Luke undeniably links them with the language: Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it. Hicks says the feeding of the 5,000 is significant for these reasons: “First, it is the only meal in Luke prior to the Last Supper where Jesus is the host. Second, it contains language that is explicitly tied to the Last Supper. Third, the Messiah, as a new Moses, feeds his people in the wilderness” (pg. 48).

We cannot miss the significance of these intentional links. All three were in the evening. The suppers were hosted by the messiah himself. They looked forward to the kingdom anew. At the third table, the resurrected Jesus hosted the meal on the first day of the week, demonstrating the continued hope and renewal we will find at the final banquet!

So the Lord’s Supper is not only about remembering Jesus. At the table, Jesus and God’s Spirit are communing with us. We look back through Israel’s history, we remember Christ and him crucified, and, through the resurrection, we anticipate the future when we will recline at the table with Jesus and all his saints for eternity. But, equally as important, we invite people to the table with us.

The table was not exclusive. As Hicks says, it was missional, communal, and hospitable. We need to revision the table where we invite people to participate in the redeeming story of Christ. The Lord’s Supper unites people at the very table where Jesus is host. He invites people to repent, be baptized, enjoy the seal of the Spirit, and celebrate at the table.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

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