Mark 13-14, Psalm 101
Many Christians worldwide say "grace" before their meals. For many it is a rote prayer they have memorized since childhood said out loud. For others it is a simple prayer of thankfulness to God for His provision. For others it is a longer, all encompassing prayer that touches on a multitude of topics. But we have to ask ourselves what does grace truly mean. It can be defined as: God's favor towards the unworthy, God's benevolence on the undeserved, or God giving us what we don't deserve( as opposed to God's mercy which is God not giving us what we do deserve, which is punishment for our sins). So, we have to ask ourselves whether we proudly come to our meals with the mindset that we have worked hard to provide for our families, or do we truly come to the table in the spirit of grace.
In Today's reading we see Jesus sharing His last meal with His best friends in a true spirit of grace. So let's look at his dinner companions. In Mark 14:17, Jesus says," Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me." We know this is Judas. His other 11 friends will all flee from Him at His most difficult moment, as Jesus predicted in Mark 14:27,"...All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered'." If that was not enough, one of His closest friends, Peter, one of His inner circle of three, Jesus says in verse 30, "...Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times." Jesus not only shared His last meal with His undeserving friends, He gave His life as He celebrated the first Communion with them. He offered His body as the final, true Passover Lamb, offering Himself as the sacrifice for their sins. In Mark 14:23, when Jesus offers the cup, this is the third of the four cups of wine used in the Passover celebration, known as the cup of redemption. Jesus as our Passover lamb was going to offer Himself as payment for our sins, redeeming us from the penalty of sin and death.
In Daniel 5:23, Daniel says to King Belshazzar, "...And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified." Do we wake up each morning realizing it is God who gives us our breath. Do we approach each meal in the true spirit of grace realizing it is God who lovingly gives us each morsel of food. My nephew who became a believer 3 years ago used to say that his favorite part of the Church Mass was Communion since it represented the end of the service. He now knows and loves God. In 1 Corinthians 11:27, Paul says concerning Communion, "Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." Tradition, rote prayer, mindless rituals destroy a true relationship with God. Let us approach each meal and each Communion celebration in the true spirit of grace.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: