This is the image that comes to mind when reading most of the commentaries I’ve found in regards to today’s passage:
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Psalm 23:5b
Many opinions I’ve read interpret this to mean that even as our enemies are threatening us, God will provide for us (and, not for them, so to speak). Now, I do not have a degree in biblical studies, nor do I claim to be a theologian. I’m just a regular person who is fascinated by the life and love of Jesus. So, please know I’m only sharing my limited and very flawed perspective of what I’m learning through David’s words.
That being said, I do not agree with many of the commentaries I’ve read on today’s passage.
I don’t see God as an “us” versus “them” kind of God. He doesn’t separate us from our enemies, He unites us. If we stick with the view of the table that God is preparing as the communion table (as discussed yesterday), ALL are welcome. Jesus does not exclude anyone from His table, even people we don’t like. Even people who don’t look, love, vote, or even worship like me. I believe that David’s words speak to reconciliation and forgiveness. Besides, is this not central to the message of Jesus?
Reflecting on Good Friday that is just two days away, I’m reminded of the words that Jesus fought to speak from the cross:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
Jesus didn’t say, “Provide for me Father, even though my enemies are torturing me to death. Make them envious of all You give me.” No, forgiveness is the message that Jesus died to give.
The apostle Paul encourages us to examine our hearts before receiving communion (1 Cor. 11:28). Participation in the Lord’s Supper is an act of remembrance, and isn’t to be taken lightly. We are to accept the elements with a humble heart, reflecting on the gift of the cross. It is through this process of meditating on all that Jesus did for us, that we find ourselves humbled to the point of offering forgiveness to our enemies. If Christ so willingly went to the cross, who am I to deny forgiveness toward another He also loves? We freely share what we freely receive. When God enlightens our heart to the meaning of the cross, the natural result is that we would even want to share it with our enemies, not just partake in front of them.
I have an image in mind. I’m standing before The Table as Jesus tenderly prepares the elements. Beside me stands a man who hurt me when I was a child, someone my family trusted with my care. With tears in my eyes, I accept the bread and wine that Jesus lovingly hands me. With fresh eyes, I turn to the man beside me. He is someone Jesus loves just as much as He loves me. He is someone Jesus died for. I open my hands to Jesus, and He lays another piece of bread and a cup of wine in my hands. I turn to this man, look him in the eye, and offer him the elements.
Friends, when I began writing this post, I had NO idea I was going to write that. Halfway through that paragraph, my fingers paused on the keyboard. My heart raced and my breath caught. Could I really write these words? I promised a week and a half ago, stepping into this journey, that I would be authentic and transparent with you. I know I could not include these words if they weren’t true. So, do I really mean them? Yes. With the grace and mercy of Jesus, I believe that I could turn to this man and offer him the same forgiveness that I’ve accepted from Christ.
One of the gifts of the Coronovirus crisis is perspective. We are discovering the true value in all that we used to take for granted. We are reevaluating what is most important. How much time and energy have we spent holding onto past pain and bitterness? Is it time to start letting go of some of that?
Who is standing beside you at The Table?
Jesus, we need You. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things for us to do. It can take a lifetime. It’s so often beyond our human capabilities. But, that is a gift, because it serves as our reminder of how much we need a Savior! Please give us willing hearts to begin this process. Begin with our understanding of communion. Help us to grasp the incredible gift of the cross. It’s only with that perspective that we can begin to forgive the brother or sister standing beside us at Your Table. Help us, Father. In Your Name, Amen.