You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. (Psalm 23:5-6)
Our Dining Room Table
Almost 15 years ago, my husband and I bought our first home together. Over our first year in the house, we saved money and gradually furnished it. First was a couch to replace my dorm room futon. Then, from my grandma’s house, a spare mattress and dresser. And, eventually, we bought a dining room table.
We had this table for a grand total of a month before we damaged it. Our basement began to flood and, as we frantically moved items upstairs to the main level, we tossed a dresser drawer on the table, putting a deep scratch across one side.
Over a decade and three children later, we still have this table. And believe me, it’s showing its age. The finish has worn off in spots, and paint from dozens of art projects add an eclectic hue to the original stain color. Its first scratch has been joined by dozens of tiny scratches, dents, and dinks from toy cars driven across the surface and forks stabbed into the wood by little hands. But despite its worn appearance, it’s where we join daily to eat meals together.
You’ve probably used your dining room table a lot more frequently over the last 18 months, just like us. One of the positives of the pandemic is that families had more time to eat meals together because most of their activities were canceled. The laughs and conversations we shared together are experiences that will stick with me for a lifetime. It’s my hope and prayer that my children will cherish these memories too.
Don’t get me wrong; not every meal in our house is a memory that I want being made. We’ve had our fair share of kids complaining about the meal I’ve made, goofing around until someone gets the hiccups, and milk spills that interrupt dinner. But the best family meals have given me a glimpse into the experience of a feast that Christians have waiting for them in Eternity:
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
He will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 25:6-8)
Honestly, the food in Heaven sounds delicious. But that pales in comparison to the experience of the banquet. No sadness, no fear of death, no tears, no shame. Just eternity with Jesus and those Christians who entered Heaven before us.
It’s impossible for me (or any of us) to grasp the awesomeness of this complete release from negative experiences and emotions. On Earth, we have points in our lives where we become calloused to these unfortunate realities of life. But for sadness, tears, share, and death to be gone forever? It’s hard to even imagine.
In His word, God tells us who is going to attend this banquet in Eternity:
Someone asked [Jesus], “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
“But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.”
Everyone is invited to God’s table. The banquet in Heaven will be even better than the reunion meals we’ve been sharing with loved ones we haven’t seen in over a year due to COVID. Just like you want all your family to be able to attend these reunions, you want your eternal reunion to have everyone in attendance.
God’s desire is for all of us to be with Him for Eternity. That’s why He sent His Son to die for us and bring us back to Him. But Jesus tells us in this parable that there are those who reject God’s grace and so, they won’t make it through the narrow gate on Judgment Day.
Can I be honest for a minute?
As amazing as Heaven sounds, I often avoid contemplating it. Don’t get me wrong; I do my best to spend time in God’s Word and in prayer every day. In that way, I look to Heaven. But I don’t want to think about eternity.
Because here’s the reality: it’s a possibility that not everyone I know and care about will be there when I get there or join me when they die. This is the unfortunate reality of living in a sinful world: some people reject God’s freely given grace.
Thankfully, Jesus’ parable about the banquet doesn’t end with weeping and gnashing of teeth. Luke 13 continues:
“People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” (Luke 13:29-30)
Even those who receive Jesus as their Savior on their deathbeds will be saved. There is still time for all of us to share the saving message of Jesus with those on Earth so that death becomes just a “see you later”. It’s never too late to come back to God.
But we don’t have forever. As morbid as it is to think about, everyone will die. Only God knows when this happens for each of us. So, there is a sense of urgency to share Jesus with the ones He places in our lives.
One of my favorite Christian songs is “To the Table”, recorded by Zach Williams. The lyrics fill me with hope and remind me of my Heavenly Father who loves me and accepts me, no matter what:
Bring it all to the table
It’s nothing He ain’t seen before
For all your trials all your worries
And your burdens
There’s a Savior and He calls
Bring it all to the table
Come on in take your place
There’s no one who’s turned away
All you sinners all you saints
Come right in and find your grace
For someone who is weighed down by the burdens of life, someone who has been hurt one too many times, someone who feels like they’ve gone down the path of no return… what a message to hear that God is there through it all.
Bring it all to God’s table. He’s already seen it. He already knows about it. Lay your burdens down at the foot of the cross, where Jesus died for you.
The Best Feast
It seems like the last 18 months have been about a lot of missed time with extended family, many holidays and meals celebrated with just those family members in our household. I think we’re all pretty excited to be able to have normal family gatherings and holiday meals with one another. We’ll finally be able to add the leaves to the table and make room for everyone again.
God’s already got the feast ready for us, whenever it is that He brings us home. Our family and friends who have gone before us are waiting to celebrate our victory in Christ. But until then, we’ve got some work to do for Jesus.
How will you and I share the message of Jesus with those around us who need to hear it? Maybe it’s sharing a song like “The Table” that teaches about God’s love for all people. Perhaps it’s a genuine, heartfelt invite to church – either at your place of worship or via live stream. It could be the kindness you show a stranger. But it’s definitely going to involve prayer. A whole lot of prayer.
Take the time today to pray for someone who doesn’t know they’re invited to the feast of eternity. Talk to God about someone who hasn’t heard the Good News that Jesus’ death is for them and they can find freedom from sin and death in him. The feast waiting for us is like nothing we can contemplate, and there’s always room for more at the table.
“To the Table” CCLI Song # 7055780 Jonathan Smith | Tony Wood | Zach Williams © 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9N-bGVtKDc