Come to Supper
about the author Steve Andrulonis entered full-time ministry in 2006 after spending more than 25 years as a journalist, including nearly 20 years with the Baltimore Sun newspaper as a reporter, editor, and page designer. He has been a teacher with Maryland Bible College and Seminary since 2001. He is also the assistant to the senior pastor of Greater Grace World Outreach and GGWO’s editorial director. He and his wife, Jean Marie, live in Baltimore. They are the parents of two sons and one daughter and have one grandson. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the King James Version. Italics for emphasis are ours.
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Table Of contents
Introduction............................................. 5 Chapter 1.................................................... 7 Superstition Chapter 2................................................... 11 Super Men Chapter 3................................................... 14 Super Systems Chapter Four............................................. 17 It’s Supper Time
INTRODUCTION A survey of history reveals a pattern in manâ€™s efforts to find something to quell the cry of the heart for comfort and significance. Longing is part of the human experience. This craving drives some to dive to the deepest parts of the ocean and some to scale the earthâ€™s highest mountains. Others pour their energies into the pursuit for Olympic medals, into changing communities, into saving the whales, into developing the next great technology, into raising the Titanic, or into making long, long melodramatic movies about it. There is something about us that prods us to move forward, moving us to seek, to know, to experience, and to discover. Moments of satisfaction arrive now and then. These bring celebrations, but soon afterward the sense of want returns. The nature of satisfaction is that it is temporary. We always want more. It is part of our design. This is especially true of our spiritual nature. The book of Proverbs tells us that the spirit of a man is the candle of the Lord. The Bible explains that each man possesses a capacity for a relationship with the One who made him. The Puritans of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries carried a guiding principle that every man and woman
was born to be the friend of God. This principle is so true. Men’s hearts plead for fulfillment and only relationship can bring it. What’s needed is an ever-growing, ever-deepening connection with God. Sadly, men are easily deceived into accepting something far less dynamic. Their hearts cry for the lofty relationship that is real religion sourced in inspiration. But instead they grope after the lower and baser sorts of self-satisfaction. They devise and manipulate things that dull and callous their consciences. The still, small voice of the Spirit gets lost amid the noise of human endeavors.
SUPERSTITION One way people have sought to bring peace and significance to their lives is through superstition. They pursue false coverings. It’s been happening since the Garden. Adam and Eve walked with the Lord until the day of their Fall. Feeling the shame of their nakedness, the couple hid from the Voice that was seeking them and stitched together aprons of fig leaves. The covering of faith in the Word of God had been replaced by a covering of effort. This is the essence of superstition. Follow this routine, make certain incantations, put on this necklace and all will be well. These practices spring from the paganism and pantheism that was rooted in many ancient cultures. People came to believe that these charms would keep them from harm. My grandmother raced her big, gas-guzzling Oldsmobile across the roads of Pennsylvania for decades. Among the grandchildren, there were always battles for the places in her vehicle. In riding with her, we were guaranteed to be first at the family picnics because she always put the pedal to the metal. So we would pile into her car—in the days before wearing seatbelts was
fashionable or legislated—and hang on for the fast and dangerous thrill ride. Grandma did so with a measure of confidence. Hanging from the rearview mirror was a St. Christopher medal. She told us not to worry because this medal gave us protection. In the book of Acts, the apostle Paul ran afoul of artisans that crafted these kinds of charms in Ephesus. The temple to the fertility goddess Diana was located there. The craftsmen did a brisk business selling small representations of the temple idol that reportedly was carved from a meteorite that crashed to earth. Ephesians heard the Gospel. Many turned to Christ and away from idol worship and pagan practices. Paul’s preaching was turning hearts toward the invisible God. Lives filled with the Holy Spirit saw no need for shiny charms. Demetrius the coppersmith and the city’s other trinket makers began to lose sales. The love of money being the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:6), these businessmen were driven to do something. The anger of the smiths incited a mob action against Paul and his company. Soon a large arena was packed with agitated Ephesians chanting, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” The bedlam surely rivaled the screaming mania that goes on in football stadiums throughout the world. The chanting lasted for two hours until
a Roman officer issued an order for them to disperse. Such is the grip superstitions can have on people. In 1 Samuel 4, the nation of Israel had lost 4,000 men in a war with the Philistines. Then, the elders of the nation got the bright idea to bring the Ark of God to the battlefield. The Ark stood in the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle that was based at Shiloh. Atop the Ark was the Mercy Seat, where the High Priest sprinkled the blood of Atonement once a year for the sins of the nation. Inside, the Ark contained the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments given to Moses, a pot of the Manna that fell during Israel’s time in the wilderness, and the rod of Aaron that supernaturally budded with almonds and blossoms during the time of Korah’s challenge to Moses and Aaron’s leadership. The Ark was the most sacred item related to Israel’s pattern of worship and it was cared for by the Levitical family of priests. The elders’ thinking was a pure case of superstition. They saw the Ark as a mere charm; something akin to my grandmother’s saintly medal. Bring us the Ark, the elders thought, and the war will turn our way. Hophni and Phinehas, members of the priestly family of that day, accompanied the Ark to the frontlines and up went a shout among Israel’s forces. The soldiers’
thinking was this: “We have the thing, so we have the power.” Even the Philistines, a nation of superstitious pagans, trembled upon hearing of the Ark’s arrival. The superstitious move failed. Another 30,000 of Israel’s army fell this day—including the two keepers of the Ark—and those who did manage to escape ran away to their tents. The Ark was left behind and captured by the Philistines. God’s presence, not superstitious practices, is the source of power in the midst of warfare, especially in the spiritual warfare His saints face every day. The thing is not the thing. Obedience and faithfulness to Truth are the keys to the deeper life with God. This kind of life is a Spiritfilled life of faith and victory. Superstition brings a false sense of confidence. It is a gimmick and gimmicks always wilt in the heat of reality.
SUPER MEN We turn to 1 Samuel 8 and find the next “super” thing that men turn to when feeling their sense of need. In this chapter, the people of Israel notice that the nations around them seem to have fewer troubles. Each of these nations has something Israel does not have—a king. Discussions were held and conclusions drawn. The people came to Samuel, the prophet and judge of the nation, and said, “Crown us a king.” A super man would cure all ills; these people were convinced of it. The superstitions weren’t working, so let’s set up someone to show us the way. Samuel was crestfallen. He could not believe his ears. He had guided Israel with integrity and faithfulness. His walk with God was pure and honest and Israel had experienced years of relative peace. Samuel’s sons were the issue. They had developed a love for money and were taking bribes instead of serving in the spirit of their father and in the Spirit of God. Samuel had watched this happen before. In his youth, he waited on Eli at the Tabernacle and saw the abominations committed by Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas. However, God always called out 11
a man of faith as He had done in calling Samuel. The prophet was sure God would provide the man for the nation, but the nation was not in a patient mood. “Give us a king. Let us be like all the other peoples.” Israel asked her prophet to help her conform to the world she was raised to change. God called Israel to represent Him and His government before the heathen. Egypt, with its idols, felt the power of the Lord as He moved to deliver His people from its control. Every Egyptian idol was shown powerless as the plagues mounted in bringing pain, suffering, and death to that land. Finally, Pharaoh thrust out Israel. A nation under God, Israel was uniquely called to reveal His power and authority. In faithfully following the Lord, Israel’s example would stir other nations to worship Him. God spoke to Samuel and told His prophet not to take the people’s request personally. Really, Israel was rejecting God. The path Israel put herself on in 1 Samuel 8 was a perilous one. Super men are hard to find. Yes, a few great and godly men did occupy the throne, most notably David, a shepherd and psalmist with a heart after God. For the most part, however, Israel’s kings were men easily corrupted by the power of their office and deceived into idolatry. Such practices cost Israel the power
of the presence of God. Eventually, the nation fell into another phase of captivity and its throne has gone empty ever since. This period of Israel’s history reached a critical juncture while Jesus walked the earth. Bringing Christ before Pilate, the Roman governor over the Promised Land that Israel had lost control over, the chief priests of the nation made this boast: “We have no king but Caesar.” Whereas once the people of Israel had asked for a king of their own, they now rejected their true King sent from God. Beyond super, this Man was and is the Holy One of Israel. Yet, He was spurned and Israel has paid the dreadful price ever since. Read the record of history and see the defeat, the destruction, and the desolation the members of God’s called out nation have suffered. Super men are not the answer. Many nations have responded to troubles and put their trust in a man only to watch that man abuse his authority. Dictators, emperors, monarchs and strongmen litter the pages of history. Still, the peoples of the world keep looking for these messiahs. The book of Revelation shows us that one will come in the last days. He will dazzle and delude a world population facing torments of immeasurable magnitude. He will make himself king and the world will follow him to destruction.
SUPER Systems At other times in history, men have crafted super systems, thinking that the rule of law and the pressure of society would create a stable environment of peace and cooperation. In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was given a dream of statue that carried a golden head, a silver upper torso, a brass midsection, legs of iron, and feet made of a mixture of clay and iron. This statue represents the kinds of government systems men find themselves under. Men labor hard in their efforts to produce golden eras and silver societies that are supported by the sound of justice and the strength of authority. Brittle, uneven feet doom all such efforts. The strength of any structure—organizationally or architecturally—rests in its foundation. Something that is built upon the righteousness of Christ and the authority of Truth stands firm in the face of difficulties and opposition. Things erected on other materials collapse under the weight of their weaknesses. Lust patterns, the love of money, roots of bitterness collaborate to bring down man’s superstructures. A classic example is the communist form of 14
government. It survived for about 70 years before its feet crumbled. The goal at the start of this movement was to create utopia—a society of equality based upon human goodness and common interest. When efforts at utopia failed, the next form of socialistic government was militant. Social equality was forced through military and authoritarian means. These pushes always led to shoves, to aggressive totalitarian regimes that limited individual freedom. As a result, innovation and invention suffered and whole generations of people lived in fear and frustration. The communist/socialist system does not produce the harmony it promises to produce. The problem is that it fails to factor in selfishness and competition—both of which are elemental to the human condition. Men also try religious systems. The priests and temple workers of Jesus’ day cobbled together a system of money changing and animal sales that did brisk business. Worshippers coming to offer sacrifices at the Temple were required to offer certified and inspected animals. Someone who brought an animal on his own faced having that animal declared unfit for offering. Most people wound up purchasing the official sacrificial animals offered on the Temple grounds. Upon seeing this scene in Jerusalem, Christ’s zeal for the purity of His Father’s house prompt15
ed Him to fashion a small whip. He used this whip to drive the merchants from their stations, overturning money tables as He went. Religious systems have continued through history. During the Middle Ages, a member the powerful and wealthy Medici banking family of Italy was named Pope of the Roman Catholic church. Pope Leo X wanted to start construction on a new cathedral in Rome. He needed capital for the project, so he developed the system of indulgences. Simply, the Pope’s system put forgiveness on the market. He issued papal certificates that were sold as offering absolutions of the penalty for sin. “Super” things, naturally speaking, are not what our hearts need. What we really need is supper. Tables set for the worshippers in Jerusalem were for buying and selling. The table Christ prepares for us is one where we find the Bread of Life. In Revelation 3:20, Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” We have been called to the table of grace. There, we have a place. Christ has called us to supper.
IT’S SUPPER TIME The night before going to the Cross, Jesus and His disciples gathered in an upper room and there they ate together. Food and fellowship went on with Jesus telling the group deep things about abiding in Him and praying in His Name. He offered thanks to God and shared the bread and the wine, explaining that this communion meal would be something they would do continually in remembrance of Him. Eating has always been part of the relationship between God and His people. In Exodus and Leviticus, the Lord instituted seven feasts throughout the year. These times were marked for the family of God to come together. Relationship was at the center of each of them; the relationship with God and the relationships with others. Jesus and His disciples were sharing the Feast of the Passover in that upper room. Roasted lamb was at the center of the meal and the Lamb of God was physically in their midst. The precious Blood Christ would shed at Calvary the next afternoon would be the Blood of Atonement for the sins of the world. In Exodus, the 17
people of Israel took the Passover lamb’s blood and brushed it on the doorposts and thresholds of their homes. This “blood” set them apart from the Egyptians, whose firstborn were slain on that night. This feast, in particular, points to the saving work of God in Christ. In Revelation 19, the blessed of God are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. A wedding feast will be at the center of our celebration in the glory of eternity. A wedding feast in Cana of Galilee is where Jesus began His miracle ministry to men and women (see John 2), and a wedding feast will represent a conclusion of sorts in Heaven. Food and fellowship—they go together in the purpose and design of God. Supper, Christ has called us to come and eat in Isaiah 55:1—“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” “…A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready” (Luke 14:16-17). Jesus spoke this parable as it relates to His great feast. “All things are now ready.” We may come freely and without money to partake of His life and His love. As the parable continues in Luke 14, we
find that most are not so eager to come to God’s table. Those invited to the feast began to make excuse. Business details, family issues, property problems were too important to them. Very able, very talented people refused their places at the table. Invited people declined a most gracious opportunity. Word was then sent to “the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind” (Luke 14:22). They came gladly, but still there was room. Invitations went out into the highways and the hedges. “Compel them to come,” the master of the feast said. “My house must be full.” With this story, Jesus illustrated the confused nature at work in people’s hearts. Free food! A ready feast, a clear invitation— what’s not to like about this? During my college days, news of free food—any food—set off a stampede in the dormitories. Gracious words and love in action were ready for all to hear while Jesus walked on earth. “Come unto Me,” He said to the weary and the weighed down. And, yet, so few responded. Why? The demonstrations of His power were well known. All who heard Him testified of the authority by which His spoke. Confusion and foolishness blinded people to the Answer for life that was there for them. The mystery of man’s iniquity is that he refuses what is free. “No, thanks—I will make my
own way.” What deception Satan has infiltrated into the streams of human consciousness. All is made ready. Come. Buy. Eat. Money is no object. Supper is served; manna has come down. Let us sit and eat with the Holy One who loves us more than we could ever imagine. Our great Shepherd prepares a table for us in the midst of our enemies. Those tables in the Jerusalem temple never could provide what the heart longs for. At the table of grace, we may eat freely and heartily. There’s nothing to hold us back. May we put aside every excuse that hinders us from coming to the table of God. What things will He speak there? The gospel of John provides a good indication for us. He will say things such as He said to those few who followed Him to the upper room. He will remind us of the promise of the Spirit—the Comforter (John 14:16) sent to live in us and to guide our way in this dark world. He will say, “Let not your heart be troubled—believe in God, believe in Me” (John 14:1). At His table of grace, Christ reaffirms for us that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). He reminds that He is the vine and we are the branches (John 15:1) and that we are clean through the words that He speaks to us (John 20
15:3). At suppertime, Jesus tells us that we are chosen of Him to be more than servants; we are called friends by Him. He speaks to us the things that make for peace in our hearts. We cannot afford to miss such meals. Supper with Christ, it has to be our most important meal. For we are moving in a world that hates Him; and it remains a world that hates those who worship Him. If we sup with Him, however, we come to a point of confidence. We can be of good cheer because the One who prepares our table is also the one who has overcome the world. It’s supper time. Jesus is calling. Open wide the door. Let’s allow Him to feed us real food and pour into our hearts the real refreshment that is the water of the Word of Life.