Sermons

Summary: Being seated at the table with Christ has to do with grace, not greatness!

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TABLE OF GRACE

JAMAICA IS AN ISLAND OF CONTRAST. I’VE HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO VISIT JAMAICA FIVE TIMES, FOUR INVOLVING A MISSION TRIP. WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO HELP MANY MEMBERS WITH MEDICAL NEEDS AS WELL AS CONTRIBUTE TO BUILDING PROJECTS. A TOURIST CAN VISIT JAMAICA AND HARDLY NOTICE THE POVERTY. WHEN THEY ARRIVE AT THE AIRPORT THEY ARE IMMEDIATELY TRANSPORTED TO AN ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORTS. AT THIS RESORT ALL OF THEIR FOOD, LODGING AND RECREATION DESIRES ARE MET. THEY CAN EAT, DRINK AND PLAY AS MUCH AS THEY WANT.

ONE OF MY FAVORITE ALL-INCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVE RESORTS IS THE 5 STAR POINCIANA RESORT. IT IS LOCATED ON THE FAMOUS 7 MILE STRETCH OF GOLDEN SAND IN NEGRIL. WHEN TRAVELING WITH A MISSION TEAM TO JAMAICA, WE TAKE A DAY OFF TO TRAVEL TO NEGRIL AND ENJOY THE SNORKELING, OFF-SHORE ISLAND AND CLIFF JUMPING.

AS AN ADDED TREAT, ON THREE OF THE MISSION TRIPS, WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ENJOY AN 8 COURSE VEGETARIAN MEAL AT THE POINCIANA RESORTS 5 STAR RESTERAUNT. DAZZLED, WE WALKED INTO THE CASUAL ELEGANCE PAST ICE SCULPTURES OF SWANS AS WE ARE GREETED BY LIVE CALYPSO MUSIC. WE ARE THEN ESCORTED TO THE SECOND LEVEL SEATING AREA, RESERVED ENTIRELY FOR US. THERE, WE WATCH THE BREATH-TAKING SUNSET OVER THE CARIBBEAN. AS WE RELISH OUR MEAL…THE QUESTION RISES…HOW COULD WE BE SO FORTUNATE AS TO DINE IN SUCH ELEGANCE?

YOU SEE…WE SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN THERE. THIS RESORT WAS EXCLUSIVE! IT WAS ONLY FOR GUESTS WHO HAD FORKED OUT HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS PER NIGHT TO ENJOY ITS BENEFITS. WHY THEN WERE WE GIVEN SUCH TREATMENT? GRACE. THAT’S RIGHT. THE CATERING COORDINATOR WAS A FRIEND. KNOWING THE RIGHT PERSON GAVE US THE PRIVILEGE OF SITTING AT THE TABLE. IT WAS HER GRACIOUSNESS THAT ALLOWED THE OPPORTUNITY.

IN MATTHEW 26:26-29, WE FIND THE DISCIPLES SEATED AT THE TABLE OF GRACE.

“AND AS THEY WERE EATING, JESUS TOOK THE BREAD, BLESSED AND BROKE IT, AND GAVE IT TO THE DISCIPLES AND SAID, ‘TAKE, EAT; THIS IS MY BODY.’ THEN HE TOOK THE CUP AND GAVE THANKS, AND GAVE IT TO THEM, SAYING, ‘DRINK FROM IT, ALL OF YOU. FOR THIS IS MY BLOOD OF THE NEW COVENANT, WHICH IS SHED FOR MANY FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS. BUT I SAY TO YOU, I WILL NOT DRINK OF THIS FRUIT OF THE VINE FROM NOW ON UNTIL THAT DAY WHEN I DRINK IT NEW WITH YOU IN MY FATHER’S KINGDOM.”

MARK AND LUKE HELP US FLESH THIS EVENT OUT A LITTLE MORE. IT GIVES A PERSPECTIVE OF THE DISCIPLES HUMANITY. RIGHT AFTER THE EATING OF THE BREAD AND WINE, WE READ IN LUKE 22:24, “NOW THERE WAS ALSO A DISPUTE AMONG THEM, AS TO WHICH OF THEM SHOULD BE CONSIDERED THE GREATEST.”

MARK NOTES THAT JESUS THEN PREDICTED THAT NOT ONLY WOULD PETER DENY HIM THREE TIMES, BUT THAT HE WOULD BE FORSAKEN BY ALL OF THEM THAT NIGHT.

LET’S NOTE THE SEQUENCE:

1. SITTING AT THE TABLE WITH JESUS.

2. ARGUING ABOUT WHO IS THE GREATEST.

3. FORSAKING JESUS.

DO WE EVER STRUGGLE WITH THAT SEQUENCE OURSELVES?

STEP 1: SITTING AT THE TABLE WITH JESUS.

WE COME TO CHURCH AND SPEND TIME IN GOD’S PRESENCE. WE OPEN OUR BIBLE AND READ LIFE-GIVING WORDS. WE COMMUNE IN PRAYER.

STEP TWO: ARGUING ABOUT WHO IS THE GREATEST.

IN THE VERY CHURCH HALLS—AS WE ARE IN GOD’S HOLY HOUSE, WE LET OUR HUMANITY JUMP IN AND DISRUPT THE SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE. JUST AS THE DISCIPLES STARTED ARGUING ABOUT WHO WAS THE GREATEST, WE ALLOW TRIVIAL MATTERS TO ENTERTAIN. WE ENGAGE IN GOSSIP, BACK-BITING, OR PURSUE SECULAR THOUGHTS AND DISCUSSIONS. TOO OFTEN THE CONVERSATION AT DINNER FOLLOWING CHURCH ISN’T SPIRITUAL FOOD.

STEP THREE: FORSAKING JESUS.

WE LEAVE OUR FELLOWSHIP WITH JESUS…SITTING AT THE TABLE WITH HIM AND FORGET HIM. WE LIVE THE REST OF THE WEEK AS IF WE DIDN’T KNOW WHO HE WAS. OUR DECISIONS, OUR TIME, OUR PRIORITIES AND OUR RESOURCES DON’T REFLECT AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST.

IF YOU AND I CAN IDENTIFY WITH THOSE STEPS, WE HAVE COMPANY…JESUS CLOSEST FRIENDS…HIS DISCIPLES…TO A MAN.

WE CAN LEARN TWO IMPORTANT LESSONS FROM THE EXPERIENCE OF THE DISCIPLES:

1. THIS IS A TABLE OF GRACE, NOT A TABLE OF GREATNESS.

MATTHEW 7:21-23. A GROUP OF PEOPLE READY TO ENTER HEAVEN BECAUSE OF THEIR GREATNESS. THEY WERE IN FOR A SURPRISE. BEING SEATED AT THE TABLE HAS TO DO WITH WHO YOU KNOW, NOT WITH WHAT YOU’VE DONE. IN FACT, SOME PEOPLE SITTING AT THIS TABLE ARE KNOWN FROM THE GREAT SINS THEY COMMITTED.

DAVID—THE MURDERER AND ADULTER.

JACOB THE CHEAT AND LIAR.

NOAH, WHO GOT DRUNK FOLLOWING THE FLOOD.

MOSES, THE MURDERER WHO HAD A HOT-HEADED TEMPER.

PETER, WHO DENIED HIS LORD.

JAMES AND JOHN WHO PIOUSLY THOUGHT THEY WERE THE GREATEST.

PAUL WHO KILLED CHRISTIANS IN THE NAME OF FOLLOWING CHRIST.

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Talk about it...

Willis Adams

commented on Feb 18, 2007

Tom, why did you do this in all caps??

Clinton Adams

commented on Apr 9, 2009

Again I ask, Why all the caps, it is so hard to read that way

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