For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
Maybe it's because He was a carpenter and appreciated woodcraft. Maybe it's because He enjoyed tasting the textures and flavors of food, a novelty of His human life.
But we often find Jesus reclining at a table.
Reclining at a dinner table...or turning over tables in the Temple Court.
The dining table was the family room, the fireside, the lounge of the ancient Middle Eastern world. It was here that fellowship and stories and wisdom and debate would take place. Nourishment would be shared, both physical and spiritual. There were no uncomfortable ladder back chairs, only couches and cushions on which to recline.
We find Jesus reclining at the table at least nine times recorded in Scripture, eating with sinners, challenging Pharisees.
At the table.
This season ushers in a lot of table dwelling for us as a culture as well. Business holiday dinners, traditional meals with extended family, buffets, gatherings, we come together to share food and laughter and memories of the past year. There's networking to be done, office politics to be fed, neighborhood alliances to be forged. Appetizers, drinks, cookies, baked goods.
But there is one dish Jesus always brought to the dinner parties He attended, one warm, comforting recipe that forever changed the tablescape where He reclined.
Service. He brought a heart of service.
He washed feet, taught redemption, broke the bread, passed the cup. He comforted, taught, and encouraged at the table. He set an etiquette of stewardship.
We get caught up in this table season, what dish we are to bring, what dessert might impress the boss, which recipe will garner us praise. We fret about keeping all the dishes warm, keeping the napkins pressed and the centerpieces fresh. We change outfits multiple times, put on one more bracelet, take it off. We paste on a smile for our guests and snap at our spouses.
We call it 'entertaining'.
What if we changed it to 'serving'? Serving that difficult associate's wife with patience and kindness. Serving that challenging family member with warmth. Serving that stressful, materialistic, demanding culture with a big slice of peace.
What if serving could become the recipe I'm known for, the one people can always count on me to bring?
It might just mean that Jesus would be there with me at the dinner party.