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A Seat at the Table

We all want to belong and to be part of the group, but it is quite a different thing to have a seat at the table. In business, having a seat at the table means that you are a valued individual. It is a recognition that your voice is important, and you were chosen to participate as part of the group. In Mark 14 we read of an example, where Jesus sat down at the table for Passover with the twelve men he selected as the Apostles.

Mark 14:12-16 - And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”  And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’  And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.”  And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

When it was evening, Jesus and the twelve gathered around and reclined to eat at the table in the upper room. It is important to take a minute and look at the background of each of these men who are at the table with Jesus. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were some of the first to be called by Jesus. Before following Jesus, they were fishermen from Galilee and disciples of John the Baptist. Galileans were notoriously known as less educated people, who belonged to the lower class. Peter’s impetuous nature often caused him to speak before thinking. Andrew was more reserved with a quiet and calculated demeanor. James and John were called the Sons of Thunder, which implies they were known for outbursts of violent anger. They sometimes didn’t think their decisions through before speaking or acting.

Philip and Nathanael were students of the Law of Moses. It appears that they were close friends, who may have studied the Old Testament together. Philip was practical and sometimes too focused on the details. He was always looking for more evidence and weighing the information instead of acting. On his first day with Jesus, Nathanael boldly proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God, the King of Israel! Jesus said that Nathanael was “an Israelite indeed in whom there is no deceit!” Unfortunately, Nathanael showed a prejudicial mindset that could have prevented him from talking to Jesus based upon where he was born, but he kept an open mind and met with Jesus.

Matthew and Thomas are known as the “The Publican” and “The Pessimist.” As a Publican, Matthew was considered as one of the most despicable, vile and unprincipled people in that time. Matthew’s job was to take money from his own people to fund the efforts of the Romans, who were oppressing them. He was hated on both sides, by his own people as a traitor and by the Romans as a Jew. Thomas is remembered as “doubting Thomas” due to his pessimism regarding the return of Jesus. Although after seeing the proof, Thomas responded in resounding support of Jesus by calling him “My Lord and My God!”

James of Alphaeus, Simon, who was called the Zealot, Judas the son of James are less known than the other apostles, but one fact we do know is that they all left everything to follow Jesus. James of Alphaeus, also known as James the Less, lives up to his nickname when it comes to references about him in the bible. Simon the Zealot was a member of a Jewish political party known for radical beliefs in respect to the occupation of the Romans. The Zealot party was known for terrorism including acts of violence and bloodshed. They hated the Romans and any Jew that supported them. Judas the son of James was also known as Thaddeus. He is only referenced once, when he asked Jesus the question: Why are “You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?” This question reveals Thaddeus tender-hearted sincerity and humility. Judas Iscariot is known for betraying the son of God for 30 pieces of silver. Judas took the money from the Chief Priests and joined Jesus at the table. Jesus was troubled in His spirit and revealed the traitor. Exposed, Judas chose to follow his own path and left the table.

Looking at these men is like looking into the mirror of society. Impetuous, quiet, thunderous, detailed, prejudicial, despicable, pessimistic, overly zealous, or sincere, as a group these men are representative of all of us. Matthew and Simon were polar opposites in their beliefs and approaches, but they were able to sit together with Jesus at the same table. The seat at the table was not earned by talent, position, or works. The seat was given by invitation of the King. All were given a seat at the table, although not for them to make decisions and lead, but for them to focus on the one who matters, Jesus the Christ. The disciples were not welcomed as powerful men with great importance. They were welcomed as children.

These men are like me. I see myself in their flaws, and that brings me comfort and purpose. Unworthy and unqualified, we must humbly approach the table of our Lord and Savior in obedience to His will in remembrance of Him.

Ephesians 2: 19-20 - Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.

Our seat at the table is not one of power. It is a seat of love, mercy, and grace at the pleasure of our King.