Excerpt of Lesson from Pastor Lester A. McCorn
7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.
10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”
13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.[a] 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
“Nothing,” they answered.
36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’[b]; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”
Sometimes taking a seat at the table is taking a seat; and sometimes taking a seat at the table is taking a stand. Frederick Douglas was an African American who had a keen focus on social justice. He fled slavery in Maryland and became known as a national leader, writer, and famous orator. Mr. Douglas believed in equality and he spent his life working on causes to bring about equal rights for all.
Recently, Colin Kaepernick, a San Francisco 49er professional football player, did not stand up during the singing of the National Anthem. He did not stand as a protest for the mistreatment of African Americans and minorities in America. Mr. Kaepernick stated to the media that, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
In life, everything is all right as long as we are silent and compliant. At some point in life, we all have to make a choice. Where do you stand? Where do you sit at the table?
At the Lord's Supper, there were 12 men being mentored by Jesus Christ. For three years prior to this special supper, Jesus was helping to develop these men – known as the Disciples.
As we take a seat at the table, what do we stand for? When we partake of the Holy meal, it is important to remember that there is a price that was paid for that meal.
It is amazing how people sometimes have selective amnesia. Don't we have the right to challenge the hypocrisy of being in a “land of the free and the home of the brave?” What will I do with my seat at the table? Will I use it for my own self gain or will I use it to serve someone else? Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” The reality is that we have been sitting at this table for a while and we are not easily moved with easy promises. We have to be willing to deal with people who are backstabbers – people who smile in our face – and then backstab us. Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” We must all be able to live as an example and inspire someone else to do better. Rosa Parks sat down in the front of the bus so that we could stand up and have a seat at the table. Someone had to go into the “fiery furnace” and stand for something, so we could have a seat at the table. We may have to stand like Daniel in the Bible and press forward. Jesus was the one that was assigning the seats at the table. Three seats at the table are:
1. The Seat of Surrender. Jesus told the fellows to go find the place for the Passover. They had to surrender to the command of Christ. They had to trust God. They did what he told them to do. They received lessons while sitting at the table. The Disciples saw Jesus sit at the table and surrender to God's (his father’s) will. We must set some things aside and surrender to God's will. We must be willing to surrender all. You can't operate in the same space pushing for your own will while also doing God's will. One will be subordinate and one will be superior. Are you willing to surrender?
2. The Seat of Sacrifice. Many of us want the results of success. However, we are not willing to put in the work and time to achieve prosperity. Jesus was a sacrifice. We must always remember the price of that sacrifice. We must be willing to go beyond the ordinary. God is not impressed with our regular mundane offering. Our sacrifice must cost us something. Many sacrificed for us. We are who we are today because others sacrificed for us. So many of our young people need to hear God and follow him. You may not be rewarded by men and women, but if you do God's work, you shall receive God's pay.
3. The Seat of Service. When dinner was over, Jesus got on his knees, took a towel, and washed the feet of all 12 of his Disciples. We must be willing to help somebody and improve the life of someone else. Don’t allow your living to be in vain. Southwest Airlines does not assign seats. They give you an A, B, or C boarding pass with a number. Everyone lines up and boards the airplane according to their group and assigned number. When you board the airplane, you are able to choose any open seat. Recently, Pastor McCorn was traveling on Southwest Airlines and decided to purchase upgraded seating because he was in boarding group C, the last group to board the airplane. His new boarding position with the upgrade he purchased was A26. After he boarded the airplane, selected his ideal seat, everyone boarded, and the plane was preparing to depart, one of the pilots announced that the airplane had to return to the gate due to a technical problem. All of the passengers had to de-board the airplane, walk to another terminal, and prepare to board another airplane. Pastor McCorn was concerned because he had paid for an upgrade and wondered if he would be able to secure his same seat on the new airplane. Fortunately, Southwest Airlines staff asked everyone to use the honor system and board the airplane in the same order as they had previously. Pastor McCorn was relieved that he was able to secure his desired seat. This is how life is. Where you sit on the first flight is where you will sit on the second flight. Matthew 20:16 says, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Take a seat at the table and stand for what is right in God’s eyes. God will take care of you. Be not dismayed whatever you must deal with. Just know that you will have a seat at the table. Amen.