WORSHIP FOR AN AUDIENCE OF ONE IN THE COMPANY OF TWO

Today’s selected reading continues in the first epistle of the apostle Paul written unto the Corinthian congregation which is found in the tenth chapter. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses sixteen through thirty-one of the chapter. This passage found within the tenth chapter of this first epistle unto the Corinthian congregation takes a marked and notable turn beginning with verse sixteen for after speaking of our fathers who were all baptized into Moses under the same cloud and in the same sea, and of the fathers who all partook of the same spiritual meat and spiritual drink, the apostle now turns to the cup and table of the Lord. Here in the latter part of the chapter—after the apostle has already warned the saints concerning listing after evil things, concerning idolatry, concerning immorality, concerning tempting Christ, and concerning murmuring, the apostle now directs his attention to the cup of the Lord together with the bread. It is what we read in this particular passage that essentially sets the stage for what the apostle Paul would write in the very next chapter, for the apostle would go on to address the table of the Lord that was set among the Corinthian congregation. It’s worth noting that while the apostle Paul spoke of how our fathers all partook of the same spiritual food and the same spiritual drink—essentially having a table prepared for them in the wilderness—the apostle Paul now speaks of a table which we as the body of Christ share together.

When we speak of the body and blood of our Lord we must recognize and understand that we have all been given the right and the privilege to partake of the same table of the Lord. There is coming a day when we will all partake of a different meal at a different table when we all sit down together at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. How incredibly intriguing it is that even on the other side of time and within the realm of eternity, we see the Father continuing to provide a table for us. We must recognize that even I eternity the Father has prepared and will continue to prepare a table for us in order that we might partake of the same meal. With that being said, the words which the apostle Paul writes at the beginning of this passage speaks of a table that was indeed prepared and spread out before the children I the wilderness. When considering the forty year wilderness journey of the children of Israel it’s absolutely imperative to recognize and understand that the Lord not only led them those forty years with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, but He also fed the congregation of Israel with manna from heaven. What’s more, is that the Lord not only proved that He could cause bitter waters to be made sweet, but He could also provide water from the rock. If you read and study the account of the children of Israel in the wilderness you will clearly see that the Lord can prepare a table even in the wilderness.

In the twenty-third Psalm, David writes of the Lord how He was His shepherd, but at one point within the psalm David makes an absolutely tremendous statement. Within the Psalm David writes concerning the Lord how he had prepared a table for him in the presence of his enemies. Pause for a moment and consider that reality—how the Lord could not only prepare and spread a table before us in the wilderness, but the Lord could also could prepare a table for us in the company and presence of our enemies. It’s actually quite interesting to consider that reality, for its one thing to be in the company and presence of our enemies, but to actually have a table prepared for us in the midst of them is something else altogether. I find it absolutely incredible that David could write such words—especially since David continually found himself surrounded and compassed about by his enemies. I remember writing about this table which is prepared for us in the presence of our enemies and how it is not necessarily a table we might think it actually is, for we would automatically assume that at this table the Lord provides for and feeds us, or even that our enemies somehow feed us. I am convinced—and have previously written—how this table which is prepared for us in the presence of our enemies is actually a table where we are given an opportunity to live peaceably and peacefully in the company of our enemies. What’s more is that I would dare say that this table is not one where our enemies serve us, but where we actually rise up and serve our enemies. I fully recognize and realize that this completely contradicts and goes against everything we think and believe, however, I am utterly and completely convinced that this table before us in the presence of our enemies is not necessarily about our needs being met. It’s one thing to consider the reality of a table being prepared for us in the company and presence of our enemies, however, it is something else altogether when we consider that table being prepared in order that we might be at peace in the midst of our enemies, and perhaps even rise up and serve them.

In order to help illustrate this point all the more, I feel it absolutely necessary to direct our attention to the Upper Room where our Lord not only taught the disciples privately in an intimate setting, but also humbled Himself in the company and presence of His followers. If you turn and direct your attention to the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel according to John you will find the account of Jesus and His disciples in the Upper Room. By this point Jesus had taken and removed His disciples from the world around them and had brought them into a private and intimate place. It’s important for us to note that before Jesus partook of the cup and the bread with His disciples, He first humbled Himself before them in their presence. If you begin reading with the first verse of the thirteenth chapter of John’s gospel you will find the following words written concerning that night when Jesus and His disciples were alone in the upper room. Consider if you will the words, the language and the text that is found beginning with the first verse and continuing through to the twentieth verse:

“Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. Then cometh He to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto Him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but tho shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto Him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For He knew who should betray Him; therefore said He, Ye are not all clean. So after He had washed their feet, and had taken His garments, and was set down again, He said unto them, Know the what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example. That ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (John 13:1-20).

When considering this particular passage found in John’s gospel, I can’t help but be reminded of a passage that is found in each of the four gospels—the account of a woman who dared come uninvited into the house of another and into the company of Jesus and His disciples and perform and engage in an act that to the natural mind would seem absolutely and utterly absurd. I would dare say that in order for us to truly and properly understand what took place in the thirteenth chapter of John’s gospel we must first understand what happened in the house of a certain Pharisee named Simon. If you turn your attention back to the gospel of Luke the beloved physician, you will find the account—not only of a certain Pharisee who sought that Jesus would sup with him, but also of a woman who dared come uninvited, a woman who dared interrupt the status quo and the norm, and a woman who dared come near to the presence and person of Jesus. If you begin reading with and from the thirty-sixth verse of the seventh chapter of Luke’s gospel you will find the following account—not only of this certain Pharisee, but also of this particular woman. Consider if you will how this story unfolds beginning with the thirty-sixth verse of the seventh chapter of Luke’s gospel:

“And one of the Pharisees desired Him that He would eat with him. And He went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the Harris of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I supposed that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the Harris of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And He said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with Him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace” (Luke 7:36-49).

A similar account to this one is found in the twenty-sixth chapter of Matthew’s gospel and is found immediately after the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled themselves together unto the palace of the high priest in order that they might consult on how they might take Jesus by subtitly, and kill Him. If you begin reading with the sixth verse of the twenty-sixth chapter you will find an additional account of this woman who had come unto Jesus with a very costly and expensive ointment that was contained within an alabaster jar. Beginning to read with the sixth verse you read the following words: “Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on His head, as He sat at meat. But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? For she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her” (Matthew 26:6-13). Within this passage we read of this same woman who dared enter into the house of another in order that she might publicly display her attention and affection upon Jesus. This woman not only dared enter into the house uninvited, but undoubtedly interrupted the activities that took place within the house. This woman came—not only uninvited, but also bearing an alabaster box of very precious ointment which she would proceed to pour upon the head of Jesus. This woman dared enter uninvited and dared interrupt that which was taking place within the house in order that she might display her affection toward Jesus in the company of others. In all reality, I would dare say that this woman paid absolutely no mind and cared absolutely not for who was around her, for in that moment it was only her and Jesus. I wouldn’t be surprised if in that moment all those around her seemed to fade into the background and it was just her and her Lord. Pause for a moment and consider that reality—how it is possible to enter into the presence of Jesu and worship Him as if it is just the two of you alone in the room. When this woman came unto Jesus, there is not a doubt in my mind that she worshipped Him as though nothing else and no one else mattered but her display of worship in His presence. When was the last time you entered the room and worshipped the Lord as if it were just the two of you alone in the room? When was the last time you entered into the presence of Jesus while He was surrounded by others, and yet you cared not for those which were before and around Jesus, and worshipped Him as if it were just the two of you? WORSHIP FOR AN AUDIENCE OF ONE IN THE COMPANY OF TWO!

When you come to the thirteenth chapter of John’s gospel you will find Jesus alone with His disciples in the upper room, and yet even before He would teach them concerning the promise of the Father, and even before He would speak to them of His departure unto His Father and the place He was preparing for them, and even before He would offer up His high priestly prayer, He would wash the feet of the disciples there in the upper room. The reason I chose to include the account of this woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with ointment, and washed them with her tears, and dried them with the hairs of her head was because we would expect the feet of Jesus to be washed. We would expect men and women to kneel at the feet of Jesus in order that they might wash His feet as this woman did, however, in this particular passage, we find—not a woman kneeling at the feet of Jesus washing His feet with the tears from her eyes, but Jesus kneeling before His disciples and washing their feet. It was there in the Upper Room that Jesus completely flipped the script and washed the feet of His disciples, and what’s more—not only did Jesus wash the feet of each of His disciples, but John would go on to speak of Judas who already had it in his heart to betray the Son of God into the hands of sinful men. Please make note of this fact, for Judas was present in the upper room, and undoubtedly Judas’ feet were washed by Jesus. It’s worth noting the progression of this particular passage for John chooses to open up by speaking Jesus knowing that His hour had come, and that He should depart out of this world unto the Father. The apostle John would go on to write how Jesus loved His own, which were in the world and how He loved them unto the end. What’s more, is that immediately after speaking of Jesus loving His own unto the end, John transitions to the supper coming to an end, and the devil having put into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus into the hands of sinful men and the enemies of Jesus. This is quite astonishing and remarkable, for when we speak of a table being prepared in the presence of our enemies, Jesus prepared a basin of water in the company of His disciples—in the company of all those who would flee, in the company of one who would deny Him, as well as in the company of that One who would betray Him.

While the apostle John didn’t write of the Passover meal which Jesus celebrated with His disciples in great detail as did the other gospel writers, we find the account of this Passover meal taking place in the twenty-sixth chapter of Matthew’s gospel. If you begin reading with the twentieth verse of the twenty-sixth chapter of Matthew’s gospel you will find the following words concerning the Passover meal which Jesus celebrated with His disciples—“Now when the even was come, He sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? And He answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! IT had been good for that man if he had not been born. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it i? He said unto him, Thou hast said. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:20-29). It is within this passage of Scripture we find Jesus partaking of the Passover meal with His disciples, and sitting down to sup as a table had been prepared for them. In fact, if you read Mark’s account of this particular account you will find Jesus’ disciples asking Jesus where it was they would celebrate the Passover. Jesus would proceed to give them instruction on where to go and which house to go in unto in order that they might partake of the Passover together. IN the sixteenth verse of the fourteenth chapter of Mark’s gospel we find the following words concerning the preparation of the Passover meal which Jesus would enjoy with His disciples—“And His disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as He had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover” (Mark 14:16).

Concerning this concept of partaking of and partaking at the table of the Lord—specifically partaking of the wine and the bread—it is absolutely necessary that we turn and direct our attention to the sixth chapter of John’s gospel. It is in the sixth chapter of John’s gospel we find an account that some might not consider as having anything to do with the table of the Lord. The truth of the matter, however, is that I am convinced this passage has everything to do with the table of the Lord. It’s worth noting that Jesus’ words concerning partaking at this table would cause a number of men and women to turn back and follow Him no more. Beginning with the the forty-third chapter of the sixth chapter we find the following words recorded by the apostle: “Murmur not among yourselves. NO man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw Him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, hHe hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, He shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say not you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even He shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answere them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray Him, being one of the twelve” (John 6:43-71).

Within this passage of Scripture we find Jesus speaking of His body as being bread and of His blood as being wine—His body and His flesh to eat, and His blood to drink. It was upon Jesus’ speaking along these lines that many who did not believe went back and walked no more with Jesus. Perhaps one of the most interesting realities concerning the table of the Lord is that it has a tendency and ability to discern who they are who truly believe in Jesus and those who do not believe in Him. It’s worth noting and mentioning that it was at this juncture when Jesus was speaking of partaking of His flesh and His blood—essentially, His preparing a table before them—that many could no more handle what Jesus was saying, and many went back and walked no more with Him. When we come to the tenth chapter of the first epistle of the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian congregation you will find the apostle speaking of the table that was prepared for the children of Israel in the wilderness—a table that was prepared with manna six days during the week, as well as water which flowed from the rock at the mountain of God. It’s worth noting and pointing out that the Lord provided and fed the children of Israel for forty years with manna from heaven, and on two separate occasions He provided them with water from a rock in the desert. The apostle Paul spoke of that Rock as being Christ, and Jesus spoke of Himself as being the bread which did come down from heaven. We must note and recognize that the Lord did indeed and did in fact prepare a table for the children of Israel in the wilderness, and He has also prepared a table for us in this generation. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul writes beginning with the sixteenth verse of this tenth chapter: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What say I then? That the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?” 1 Corinthians 10:16-22).

Within this passage of Scripture the apostle Paul speaks of the communion of the blood of Christ, and the communion of the body of Christ, but then goes on to speak—not only of the unity of the body, but also of the stark contrast between partaking of the cup of the Lord and partaking of the cup of devils. What’s more, the apostle would go on to write of the contrast that exists between partaking of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. DRINKING THE CUP OF THE LORD & PARTAKING OF THE LORD’S TABLE! DRINKING THE CUP OF DEVILS AND PARTAKING OF THE TABLE OF DEVILS! It’s absolutely incredible that while Judas partook of the Passover meal with Jesus and the rest of the disciples, and while He partook of the bread and drank of the wine, Satan had already entered into his heart to incite him to betray Jesus into the hands of sinners. Satan had already entered into the heart of Judas Iscariot to incite him to betray the Son of man into the hands of sinners, and yet he still allowed Jesus to wash his feet, and he still chose to partake of the cup and the bread. I can’t help but take a look at Judas and see one who might not have partaken of the table and cup of devils there in the upper room, but Satan had indeed filled his heart and incited him to betray Jesus into the hands of His enemies and adversaries. We are called to the table of the Lord and we are called to partake of the body and blood of our Lord, however, we dare not think that we can partake of the table of devils, and drink the cup of devils and not be held accountable. In fact, when we come to the very next chapter within this passage of Scripture we find the apostle Paul writing concerning the table of the Lord, and eating and drinking of and at the table unworthily. If there is one thing this particular passage should bring us face to face with it’s the tremendous need for self-examination, and a complete and total willingness to take a good, hard, and careful look at ourselves and recognize and understand what cup we are drinking from and what table we are partaking of. Are you willing to not only ask this question of yourself, but are you also willing to answer this question—despite the fact that you might not like the answer that is found and discovered? We have all been called to partake of that one bread and to drink from that one cup, yet there are many who would dare partake of this one bread and drink from this one cup, and yet on the side drink from the cup of devils and eat at the table of devils.

I would conclude this particular writing with a profound example of sitting at and partaking of the table of devils. In the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings we read the account of Elijah on the top of Mount Carmel when he prayed unto the Lord to answer from heaven by sending fire down upon the altar. Before the fire of the Lord fell from heaven we find the following words which should be incredibly sobering and challenging to us in this generation: “And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou He that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (1 Kings 18:17-21).

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