The Table of the Lord

As the newly formed community of Jesus-followers assembled daily in the temple, they prayed together and listened to the teaching of the apostles. And they also gathered in homes as small groups to break bread together.

When Luke, the author of Acts, says that the disciples of Jesus were devoted to the breaking of bread, and that they broke bread daily in their homes, what does he mean by that language?

This is why it is important to read Luke’s first volume, the Gospel of Luke. In that story, Luke describes how Jesus broke bread with five thousand as he feed the hungry who were following him (Luke 9:16), how Jesus broke bread with his disciples during the Passover (Luke 22:19), and how Jesus broke bread with two disciples at Emmaus on the day of his resurrection (Luke 24:30). In each case, the living Jesus acts as the Messiah of Israel by providing nourishment, both physical and spiritual. Jesus is the living host of these tables, both before and after his death. Particularly, in Luke 24, Jesus takes the bread, gives thanks, breaks it and gives it to the two disciples in Emmaus. In that moment, Jesus is revealed to the disciples as the resurrected Messiah, once dead but now eternally alive. Jesus is made known to the disciples in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:35).

When we read that the disciples in Acts 2 continued to break bread, we may take our cue from what Luke has already told us. Jesus, as the living, resurrected Messiah, continues to host a meal for his community. The disciples gathered daily in their homes to eat a meal together in which they gave thanks for what God had done in Jesus, and in the breaking of the bread Jesus was revealed as the living Messiah, and, consequently, disciples shared their food with joy and generosity.

In these early days of the Jesus community in Jerusalem, the disciples broke bread daily, and as the community spread across the Mediterranean basin, we learn that the disciples in Troas apparently gathered weekly in order to break bread. Like on the day of Pentecost, they broke bread on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

The confluence of breaking bread, the resurrection of a dead person, and the first day of the week in both Luke 24 and Acts 20 bears strong witness to a weekly gathering to sit at the table of the Lord where the resurrected Messiah hosts the meal as a weekly anniversary of his resurrection.

The table of the Lord, or the breaking of bread, is a meeting place.  It is where individual believers encounter the risen Christ in community with other believers.

At that table, we hear a word of grace: “This is my body which is given for you.” Or, “this is my blood which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” At that table, we hear a word of thanksgiving: “We give thanks to God for the gift of the Messiah through the Spirit.”   At that table, we hear a communal word: “We eat the same bread and drink the same cup as the one body of Christ.”

The table, the breaking of bread, is a word of grace, thanksgiving, and community. It is where renewed Israel, as disciples of Jesus, experience the mercy of God and the joy of the Holy Spirit in the presence of the Living Messiah as we hear the invitation of Jesus, “Come to the table!”



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