Surely Jesus believed that prostitutes were sinners, yet he welcomed them to his table. He ate and drank with them.
Surely Jesus understood that tax collectors betrayed their countrymen by helping the brutal Roman occupiers in his homeland, yet he welcomed tax collectors to his table as well.
Surely Jesus knew that religious hypocrites misrepresented Yahweh’s heart toward his people and laid heavy burdens on God’s people, yet he dined with them and invited them to participate in his Father’s kingdom.
Surely Jesus saw first-hand Peter’s temper, James and John’s foolish nationalism, even Judas’ tortured and divided motivations, yet he broke bread with each one of them, sharing his very body and blood.
Wherever Jesus ate, it was his table, and Jesus welcomed everyone to his table. He welcomed the clueless and the cruel. He engaged the outcast and the insider. He shared his life with his enemies because he came to turn enemies into family. His method was startling: He ate and drank with them. He turned water into wine and transformed ritual into everlasting love.
Still, he gave no one a pass on their rebellious or self-destructive ways. Jesus—the sinless perfect representative of God’s heart—never lowered his standards or winked at injustice. Still, around his table everyone was welcome. He was no lightweight: If a moment called for brutal honestly, he fulfilled that need as well. He did not negotiate, he fellowshipped.
He set an example for us to follow. On his way to the cross he stopped to eat and drink each day, and each day he welcomed his enemies to his table. At the cross, he did what only he could do. At the table, he demonstrated what we should do.
He refused to let disagreement separate him from others. Jesus possessed the proper opinions, the right positions and perfect perspective, but never—not once—did he use his correct standing as a reason to alienate other people.
As he prepared to leave his friends, he drew them to the table once more. There, at the sacred table, he said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” We can transform every table into sacred space by who we welcome.
How will we remember him? Who is welcome at our table?