An Unexpected Path to Hope: The Table of Jesus

Passage: Mark 14:17-31
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

Sermon Summary

From the book of Genesis, when God “set a table” for Adam and Eve, to the marriage supper of the lamb in Revelation, the Bible is a story of God hospitably inviting us to the table to feast with him. Much of Jesus’ own ministry, likewise, revolved around the table. In the final week of his life, Jesus brought his own disciples to the table to dine with him one last time, during the Passover. So much more was on offer than they could imagine, however, as “the Lord’s Supper” is an invitation, not only to the disciples, but to us all. It is an invitation to face ourselves, to feast on Jesus, and to follow him.

First, Jesus invites us to face ourselves. Though Judas would ultimately be the one to betray him, and Peter to deny him, every one of the disciples would soon abandon him, despite their prideful pretensions otherwise. Jesus invites only sinners and undeserving people to feast with him, so his table is open to anyone. We need to recognize our own pride today, and come to Jesus with nothing but our failure and need.

Second, Jesus invites us to feast on him. At the Lord’s Supper, Jesus gives his own body and blood for us to take and eat, in the bread and wine—the ultimate expression of self-giving love. We feast on Jesus when we root our lives deeply in the enjoyment of his love for us, even in our sin and need. Jesus’ self-giving love is also the basis for a new way of life—the “exchanged life.” Just as Jesus exchanged his life for ours, we who have received Jesus’ love operate out of an attitude of sacrificial service, as we go through life laying ourselves down for others in both great and small ways.

Finally, Jesus invites us to follow him. He told his disciples that after he was raised up, he would “go before them to Galilee” (14:28)—the place where they were first called. In saying this, he was inviting them to follow him freshly, but as new people—people who face their need, feast on his love, and live out the exchanged life. Truly, Jesus wants his table to be extended to all. He calls us to bring others to the table, even as he graciously invites us there himself.

Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide

Re-read the passage (Mark 14:17-31)

Jesus Invites Us to Face Ourselves (14:17-21; 27-31)

Q) Re-read Mark 14:17-21. What do you imagine the mood was like, at the table, before Jesus said, “one of you will betray me,” and after he said this? Though Jesus knew what was going to happen to him, why do you think it was important that the disciples realized it too? What did he want them to learn about themselves?

Q) Re-read Mark 14:26-31. Why do you think it was hard, not only for Peter, but for all the disciples, to imagine that they would soon abandon him? Why were they so sure of their own commitment to Jesus?

Q) Pastor Bobby said that pride is easy to detect in others, but hard to detect in ourselves. While all sin blinds us to some degree, why do you think pride is a sin we are particularly blind to?

Q) When was a time in the last few months when God exposed your pride to you? How was it exposed and how did you react? What did it teach you about yourself?

Q) Pastor Bobby said that “the only pre-requisite we need to come to Jesus is our need”, and that God’s grace is available only to the utterly undeserving. Even if we believe this truth in our minds, it can be hard to rest on it in our hearts and lives. What do you think would change about your life if more thoroughly embraced this truth? What would change about your relationships?

Jesus Invites Us to Feast on Him (14:22-26)

Q) Re-read Mark 14:22-25. What words or phrases do you notice in these verses that indicate Jesus’ generosity of spirit—his willingness to freely give himself for us?

Q) Pastor Bobby said that Jesus’ giving his body and blood for us was the ultimate “exchange”, and that as followers of Jesus, Christians are to live “the exchanged life.” In your own words, how would you describe what the “the exchanged life” is?

Q) In what ways does our culture either encourage us towards, or discourage us from living an “exchanged life”? Give some examples.

Q) What is one tangible way that you can “lay down your life” this week, so that somebody else can benefit? How can Jesus’ example empower you to do this?

Jesus Invites Us to Follow Him (14:28)

Q) Re-read Mark 14:28. What did Pastor Bobby say was the importance of Galilee in this verse? Why was that a significant location for Jesus’ disciples, and what was he inviting them into?

Q) Jesus is constantly inviting us to follow him afresh—to follow him into the same situations we face every day, but with the new identity we have as those who are loved, even in our sin. What is one situation you’ll face in the next month that you want to better follow Jesus in? How can facing your sin and feasting on Jesus empower you to follow Jesus in this situation?

CASE STUDY: Your friend is a new Christian, who was recently baptized. You notice that the first few times you take communion together at house church, he quietly refuses to take the elements. Normally, you wouldn’t ask someone about this, but it does catch your attention because you would have thought he’d be eager to take the elements for the first time. When you gently inquire, they respond: “I’ve been reading 1 Corinthians in the Saturate reading, and I read a part where Paul says something like, ‘Whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup in an unworthy way is guilty before God…the “unworthy way” part really stuck out to me. I know I’ll never be worthy enough to be saved, but I feel like I should grow as a Christian before I take communion.” Based on this week’s passage and sermon, how would you talk with your friend?

Additional Application Questions

Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?

Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?

Prayer

Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.

 
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