13And he went out again by the sea, and the whole crowd kept coming out to him, and he was teaching them. 14As he was going along he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s station and he said to him, “Follow me!” And he rose up and followed him. 15And he was reclining to dine in his house and many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were lots of them following him. 16But when the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17And Jesus heard and said to them, “Those who are strong don’t need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call righteous people, but sinners.” — Mark 2:13-17
20In the evening, [Jesus] reclined to eat with the 12. 21And as they were eating, he said, “It tell you truly that one of you will betray me.” 22They were very grieved and began saying to him one at a time, “Surely not me, Lord!” 23But he answered, “One who dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24The Son of Man is going just the way it was written about him, but woe to the man through whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” 25Then Judas, who was going to betray him said, “It’s not me, is it, Rabbi?” Jesus said, “You said it.”
26Now while he was eating with them, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. He said, “Take it and eat! This is my body.” 27And he took a cup, blessed it and gave it to them. He said, “All of you drink from it, 28for this is my covenantal blood poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine again until that day when I drink it with you anew in the kingdom of my Father. 30And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. — Matthew 26:20-30
Our passages today tell an interesting story about Jesus. Together they tell us that he was regularly eating with people that some folks found inappropriate. They werenâ€™t the â€œniceâ€ socially acceptable people. When he instituted the Lordâ€™s supper, he had with him the one who would betray him.
Itâ€™s traditional that we celebrate communion during the easter season, especially early during the week. And that is a wonderful time of the year to commemorate Jesus giving of his body and his blood for our salvation. But this celebration can take place at any time of the year, and it should take place regularly. Even further, the principles it teaches should be part of our daily lives.
But Iâ€™d like you to see in these scriptures something more. Jesus reached out through the sharing of the bread and the wine even to those who were outcasts of society. He shared communion even with one who was planning to betray him.
Often our response to someone who hates us is to exclude that person. They donâ€™t like us anyhow! But Jesus, by example suggested that we do just the opposite.
But what about those who are homeless and destitute now? If we are feeling compassionate we often want to give money to some group of people that will help out. And I donâ€™t want you to fail to give to those who help those less fortunate. But there is another level in the example Jesus gave. He went out to eat with people who were despised. He let his own reputation suffer. He shared in their joy, their sorrow, and their fellowship.
And this is the daily meaning of communion. As God reached out to us through Jesus, so we need to reach out to one another in the offering of bread, of shelter, of clothing. We do want to commemorate Godâ€™s gift, but at the same time, we want to spread that gift to others.
(This devotional was adapted from today’s Running Toward the Goal podcast.)