Last weekend I prepared lunch for my Papa and dad and dinner for some good friends all in the same day. I enjoy cooking for others, but Michael and I have decided not to do this twice in one day thing ever again. (It brought out my cranky side.)
I was busy all day preparing the table for guests, washing dishes, setting the table with clean linens, preparing the appetizer in the crock pot, washing dishes, pounding out chicken and rolling it up with ham and Swiss, icing cookies, and washing dishes. (And nagging the hubs--I'm not proud.)
Preparing the table can take a lot out of a host, but joy comes when the guests arrive.
In Phillip Kellers's book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, he states, "It is not always apparent to us what a tremendous personal cost it has been for Christ to prepare the table for His own." He is referring to Psalm 23:5.
As I read this line of the book, I had to stop and think about this some more. I had just prepared a table; it was a lot of work, but I was happy to do it. I also thought about how when I am the guest, I don't always consider all the personal cost it takes my friends to prepare the table for me.
Christ didn't prepare the table for friends, however. He prepared the table for His enemies. We were not His fiends until we finally sat down and submitted ourselves to His care. And it is He who had to sit us down. He did all this work while we balked and fussed that we could do it on our own. We said we didn't need His help.
And what was this work that He did for us? What does it mean that Christ prepared the table? It was a much larger cost than washing loads of dishes. The cost for Him was His blood. I may have sweat a little from the heat of my oven, but Christ sweat blood at Gethsemane as he looked at the task before Him. And blood poured from His head and His hands and His feet and His side when He died on the cross to prepare the table for me. And for you.
Yet He considered it all joy (Hebrews 12:2). He prepared the table with no complaints. Why? Because He had planned this banquet from the beginning. Because He set out to restore a relationship between a wretched people and a holy God. All people are sinners. We cheat, steal, lie, lust, hate, fornicate. And all these things separate us from God because holiness and unholiness cannot unite. And separation from God is hell and death. But Jesus laid down his life willingly for us so that our lives would be spared.
And one day, all us who trust in His work will have a big banquet feast with Him in heaven, because God now sees us as holy through Christ's work.
There's a lot to ponder next time we set the dinner table. Do I acknowledge the cost it took Christ to prepare the table for me? Do I acknowledge it more than just in my head but in my actions as well?