A Table Prepared
Daily Bread #14
Read Mark 14:12-26
Questions To Answer:
What’s the most elaborate meal or dinner you’ve ever been a part of?
What made it special?
Imagine having a wonderful meal around a large table. You can invite only 12 people.
Who would you invite and why?
Where would you hold it?
What would you eat?
How long would you stay and what would you want to do at this meal?
Mark includes the instructions of Jesus to his disciples concerning the preparation of the Passover meal. How is this similar/different from Mark 11:1-6?
Why do you think this meal was significant for Jesus and His followers?
Why do you think Jesus shares with the Apostles the plan to betray Him?
How would you respond to His statement?
In verse 21, Jesus says that these things will happen “just as it is written…”. Do you think Judas had a choice in playing His part in this fulfillment of prophecy?
How can things happen “just as it is written,” but still be subject to our own free will?
The bread and the wine are powerful symbols. How does Jesus use them to teach His disciples?
What did that mean to them in their time? What do those symbols mean to us today?
In verse 25 Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Do you think this prophecy has come true now? Do we drink the cup with Jesus every week, or are we waiting to drink the cup with Him when He comes again? Can it be both?
Scriptures To Read:
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
For the LORD will ransom Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD— the grain, the new wine and the oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
A Thought To Ponder:
I love trimming trees. Not in the Christmas spirit, deck the halls, haul out the holly kind of way. I enjoy chainsaws. Cutting and clearing and stacking and burning. These are a few of my favorite things. It is visceral and violent. Loud and laborious. In the process, I have been besieged by chiggers, feasted on by fire ants, and burned by the Texas heat. But, there’s nothing quite like the sense of accomplishment I feel when a once overgrown and unsightly stand of trees is now pruned and manicured and healthy. Free from dead limbs and rotted out patches, this foliage can now stretch out and thrive, providing shade to sit under and strong branches to climb on.
Jesus teaches about another kind of tree trimming. Just before his crucifixion, Jesus sits to eat his last Passover meal with his closest friends. He uses a few object lessons to make some lasting points. He washes their feet to remind them of the service he calls us to. He breaks bread to symbolize how his body will be broken for our sins. He shares the wine that represents his blood poured out for us. It’s in this context that Jesus makes this statement.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful… (John 15:1-2 NIV). It’s a scary proposition. The image of the gardener hacking off branches and pruning back our limbs is frightening. It sounds cruel and judgmental. Painful and pride-crushing. However, if you start with the end in mind we learn to welcome the process. If the end result is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness (you know the rest) then I for one would welcome a little pruning.
To be honest there are some dead and dying parts of my heart that could use a little surgical attention. In many ways, my life is so overgrown with complacency and selfishness that the best solution can only come from a chainsaw and a bonfire. May we have the courage to ask the Father to cut out of our lives the things that are keeping us from thriving and growing in Him. May we stay connected to our True Vine, the very source of life and light in our world. And, may you bear much fruit as you walk with Him.
A Prayer For Change:
From Carol Penner. A prayer based on Psalm 34:8 which says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
We come to church hungry, Lord!
We are hungry for comfort,
hungry for love,
hungry for a new way of living,
hungry for your word.
Thank you for giving us this place
and this time to worship,
and we are eager to taste your goodness
in community, with our brothers and sisters.
Bless us as we feast on the Bread of Life today.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.