A Subversive Meal

I was struck this morning, by how subversive a meal can be.

Let me explain…

As the gospel accounts unpack their story, we read about Jesus’ steady, onward progression towards Jerusalem.

In obedience to His Father, he is resolutely journeying towards Jerusalem and the bloody fate that awaits him there.

As he goes, he continues to teach.

And continues to heal.

And continues to arouse the opposition of the religious leaders.

In Bethany he raises Lazarus. Bringing the sweet aroma of His life to bear on the stench of death.

The news of that miracle spread rapidly and many more Jews believed in Him.

But it served also to increase the wrath of the religious leaders. Worried about disturbing their status quo, they passed a resolution (John 11:57) -  “If you know where Jesus is, tell us…or else.”

Word would have got out.

“If you know where Jesus is, you’ve got to tell.”

And against that backdrop we get the beautiful, stark simplicity of a meal. A subversive meal.

Read it in John 12.

Listen to how John records it.

11v57….John recounts the leaders’ command to turn in Jesus.

And in the very next sentence we read of a meal given in Jesus’ honour.

Turn him in. No chance.

We are going to welcome him, eat with him, linger with him, be with him.

I’d never noticed it before, but it’s quite stunning.

Simple folk. Mary, Martha, Lazarus and others, defying orders of their religious leaders.

Refusing to turn him in. Refusing to betray their Lord and Master.

I find myself thinking of a Christmas carol…

Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.

In meekness, Mary, Martha and their brother open up their home.

And Christ comes to eat.

Something so simple…a meal…as an act of defiance.

As a pledge of loyalty.

As an expression of intent.

My mind wanders to the next meal recorded in the gospels. The Last Supper.

And Jesus’ words there…

I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

Jesus institutes another meal which he instructs his followers to continue…in remembrance of Him.

Paul writes about this meal in 1 Corinthians 11. There, he writes this: For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Another meal…more subversion.

More defiance.

I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it in this way before, but when we share communion we’re not just remembering. We’re not just looking backwards.

But we’re also looking forward.

And in looking forward, we’re saying something.

I don’t belong…we don’t belong…to this kingdom…the kingdom of earth.

We belong somewhere else. To someone else.

To another Kingdom.

So next time you take communion, remind yourself of the subversive nature of what you’re participating in.

You’re part of a revolution.

Part of a new order.

A subversive.

Simon Lang