A devotional by Hannah Williamson
Day 1 // ‘The Grace Table’
‘While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.’ Matthew 9:10 (check out the full story from verse 9-13)
I recently bought a new garden table and chairs. I’m sure, like me, you have been desperate to get out in the garden while we are enjoying this lovely warm weather. I have always wanted a large dining room table to be able to entertain but my house is just a little too small for one. I did, however, find a table that would be just like what I would have inside but it was for the garden so I bought it and thought I’d do up my garden so that I can still entertain people!
The Bible, and particularly the gospels, makes a lot of references to tables. When Jesus met people or taught people He often did this while sitting around a table. I guess hospitality and eating was a huge part of the culture and so this is a common place for us to find Jesus. This got me thinking about what happened and what was said at the tables that Jesus sat at.
In the above story Jesus is sat at a table with people of disreputable character! They were not the type of people many would have round their house for dinner, but Jesus loved this group of people. He saw them through grace-filled eyes. He didn’t look at their past or their failings or how others looked at them, but He saw them with love and accepted them to the table to eat with Him. I recently saw an Instagram post with a frame in someone’s house by the dining table that said, ‘We build tables not walls around here.’ What a great phrase. I realise right now we do not necessarily have the freedom to invite everyone to our house for dinner, but can I encourage you to put aside your judgement of people and be more like Jesus was when He was full of grace in the way He saw people. There is often so much prejudice and judgement in the world, yet I know for me, I just want to be more like Jesus and so that means loving people no matter who they are or what they have done!
Prayer: Jesus, help me today to see people as You see them and to accept people regardless of their past, their failings or any other prejudice I may hold. In Jesus name. Amen.
Day 2 // ‘The Miracle Table’
‘Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied…’ Mark 6:41-42 (check out the full story from verse 30-44)
I’ve always wanted a real nice picnic basket and especially during this season, I think it could be quite helpful! The problem is that I have quite bad hayfever so whenever I do go for a picnic and sit on the grass I start sneezing excessively! In this story we find in Mark 6, it is kind of like one big picnic, only with at least 5,000 people! Although the people are not sitting at a table they are most likely sitting in groups listening to Jesus teach them. What I love in this story is that although Jesus is concerned about their spiritual wellbeing, so is teaching them, He is also concerned for their physical wellbeing and wants to ensure they can all eat.
We see in the story that Jesus takes the five loaves and two fish and hands it to the disciples to hand out to the people. As they take the food and give it out, it multiplies! Now I have to be honest at this stage and say that a few days ago I was speaking to Kathleen, one of our older members of the church and she was telling me how she had noticed that in this story Jesus gave the food and then it multiplied as they gave it out. What an incredible thought that as Jesus gives to us and we then give to others, what we give can be multiplied to help people. Multiplication is definitely a Jesus ‘thing’ and I think there is a principle to be learnt here. As we receive from Jesus, it is our responsibility to give to others and we then have to trust that what we give will be multiplied to help people. My challenge to you today is to look at what you have to give to others? Maybe you know someone that is in financial need and you could give them money? Maybe you know someone who needs encouragement and you could give them a call? Maybe you have the means to buy for our food bank or donate money? Whatever or however you choose to give today know that as you give out of what Jesus has given to you, He will multiply to help even more people!
Prayer: Jesus, today, help me to look at what You have poured into my life and find ways to be able to pour out to others. As I pour out to others, would you multiply the little that I have to help many. In Jesus name. Amen.
Day 3 // ‘The Generous Table’
‘While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured perfume on his head.’ Mark 14:3 (read the full story from verse 1-11)
Growing up, we would always (and I still do!) say ‘Grace’ before we ate food. For any not familiar with this, ‘Grace’ was a prayer to say thank you for the food we were about to eat. We would often try to be funny and when someone said, ‘can you say Grace?’ rather than say a prayer would shout the word grace! We would also as kids try to say it super-fast because we were hungry! The reality, however, was that it was a great habit to have formed as it meant we were taking time at least three times a day to say thank you to Jesus for His generosity toward us in providing food.
As we get to this story in Mark 14 we see a woman come to the table where Jesus is sitting and show extravagant worship toward Him. This wasn’t a quick thank you to Him but a heartfelt outpouring of worship & devotion. This woman was so grateful that she would pour out what was precious and expensive to her all over Jesus’ head. I think it can often be difficult for us to stop during our busy days and give worship to God. I know over the past few months of being in lock down it has allowed me a little more time to stop and think. I don’t know if you, like me have noticed however, that unless we are intentional about time spent in worship to God it won’t happen. It doesn’t matter how many hours we have free in the day without planned worship we probably will forget. So, in light of this, I want to challenge you today to take time to regularly stop what you are doing and speak to Jesus. Reflect on who He is and thank Him for His goodness to you!
Prayer: Jesus, help me today to take time out of my day to stop what I am doing and worship You. Thank you for Your love and Your goodness to me. May I never become so busy that I forget this. In Jesus name. Amen.
Day 4 // ‘The symbolic table’
‘’And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘this is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup saying, ‘this cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’ Mark 22:19-20 (ready the full story from verse 7-38)
As I was growing up, there was a ‘special table’ in our church that was just used for taking communion (the bread and juice used to symbolise Jesus dying for us.) It was right at the front of the church and it was untouchable. If you, as a child, touched it you would get in serious trouble (mainly only from one older woman in church!). It used to confuse me as it was ‘just a table.’ The reality was that that was true – it was just a table. It was like any other table. What was significant was the bread and the juice we took as a symbol to remember Jesus dying for us. These days, we’ve moved on from the ‘special table’ days and now don’t even have a table!
In the above passage Jesus is sat with His disciples at a table just before He is going to be crucified. People’s last memories of someone before they die are always important and this would have been the case with the disciples. At this table, Jesus was effectively telling the disciples that they must never forget what was about to happen, that it would be significant. In the USA a common celebration is called ‘Thanksgiving’ – in some homes it is bigger than Christmas. I had an American friend who lived in the UK who invited me to a Thanksgiving meal. What I most loved about it was the way we went around the table and said one thing we are thankful for. The symbolic table of communion helps us do this by helping us to remember and be thankful for what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross. Can I encourage you today to take some time to be thankful for this? Maybe, you even want to take some bread and some juice and as you eat dinner tonight, take this symbolic meal and thank Jesus for what He did for you (this is after all how the early church took communion!).
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for what You did for me when You died on the cross. Thank you that because of Your death and resurrection I can be in relationship with You. Help me to always be thankful for this and never forget Your sacrifice. In Jesus name. Amen.
Day 5 // ‘The forgiveness table’
‘When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, ‘bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ So, Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish….. Jesus said to them, ‘come and have breakfast.’ John 21:9-12 (read the full story from verse 1-25)
I was recently in a restaurant for dinner with my mum. Behind us sat a couple who had quite clearly had a big argument. For the entire time we were there they sat either on their phones or just staring out the window refusing to look at each other – I felt awkward for them and who knows what they felt!!! No one likes to be sat at a table where there is tension with the people you are sitting with. This tension could have been the case at this ‘BBQ on the beach’ that Jesus was cooking for the disciples. The account we read above is after Jesus has died and rose again but also after the disciples ran away and left Him. They knew they had done wrong and let Him down but here was Jesus inviting His disciples and His friends to eat with Him.
This was a particularly big moment for Peter as he had promised Jesus prior to His death that he would never disown Him but lo and behold, that is what he did! In human terms we would expect Jesus to want nothing to do with Peter ever again, but this is Jesus we are speaking about!!! He invited Peter in, forgave him, poured out love towards him and reinstated him as a disciple. It’s a powerful moment of forgiveness. I recently saw a quote that said ‘When you have more than enough build a longer table, not a higher fence’ – wow! We are called as Jesus followers to love and forgive. Forgiveness is not easy and, in my experience, not a fast process. It is something we daily choose to do. Can I challenge you today to consider those you need to forgive and make the choice today to do that very thing!
Prayer: Jesus, help me today to forgive those that have hurt me. I know you have forgiven me for so much and I am so grateful for this. Help me, likewise, to forgive others. In Jesus name. Amen.