I must, first of all, acknowledge my source. Shane Willard’s unique teaching provides a rich table from which to feast.
Talking of tables, the imagery of a table in Scripture is fascinating. The Hebrew for a meal is shul, while the word derived from the root, shulchan, has three meanings, a table, reconciliation and a lamb’s skin. It is quite difficult from a Gentile and western perspective, to see the connection between these three meanings, but not for a Hebrew.
To a Hebrew person, a meal meant much more than people eating together. People could not sit around a table and eat together if they had issues between them. Therefore to eat together meant that they had been reconciled. If someone were invited to a meal with a person with whom they were at loggerheads, sitting down together meant that both parties were willing to put the past behind them and do life together from then on.
If there was no table, the lamb’s skin would have been used as a picnic blanket upon which the meal was spread; a beautiful symbol of the cost of reconciliation. In order to have a ”table”, a lamb had to die. The application is obvious.
“The table” features right through the Bible. Before the children of Israel left Egypt, God instructed them to eat a meal, families together. They could not leave on a hazardous journey through the wilderness if they had issues in the family. They were to be reconciled to each other by eating a meal together before they left.
David’s most loved song, Psalm 23:5: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies...” is not permission to thumb your nose at them but an invitation from God to be reconciled to your enemies. Jesus put it this way: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44. Paul understood the imagery, which he quoted from Proverbs 25:21,22: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him...” (Romans 12:20)
The Pharisees had issues with Jesus because He had no qualms about eating with taxcollectors and sinners. When they cricised Him, He responded with His characteristic attitude of compassion to the "outsiders". What's the use of medicating those who are not sick? He came especially to reconcile the ones who were disconnected from God. The Pharisees thought that they were connected but they had missed it.
Perhaps the two clearest examples of this practice can be seen in Jesus’ invitation: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him...” John 6:56. This is not cannibalism. This is reconciliation. When we take into our hearts the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we are reconciled and we become a part of Him and He becomes a part of us.
The second is found in John 21. All the disciples had failed Jesus; one had betrayed Him, ten had fled and one had denied Him. What does He do? He stands on the beach and cooks breakfast. Then He issues the simple invitation, “Come and eat.” (Verse12) Wow!
So Jesus says to the Laodicean church, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20. Reconciliation!