This was not the Passover seder meal which was always eaten with one's family. Jews viewed a day as beginning after sundown, and this evening was the beginning of the long Day of Preparation before the Passover (Mark 15:42, as in Matthew 26:5; 27:62; Luke 23:54; John 19:14, 31, 42). Jesus wanted to prepare for the betrayal, trial, and death by crucifixion by eating with his disciples.
Surely he had other things to think about? Why was eating so important for him? My favorite parable is when the prodigal son came back from the far country. "Get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found" (Luke 15:23-24). That was eating to give thanks and celebrate But if you think about it, eating can have many meanings.
One of our friends, Andrew Merrick, was a Polish fighter pilot who fought all the way through the Battle of Britain. Then he was shot down over occupied France. The German pilot who shot him down was immediately downed by Andrew's buddy. And both came down by parachute. The German pilot had Andrew brought to the officer's mess, and they ate and drank together that evening. Then they saluted each other, and Andrew had to be taken off to prison camp. I often use that story to illustrate Jesus' words about loving enemies by eating together. That meal made all the difference to how these two men, who were deadly enemies, felt about each other.
In the Gospels we read how the Pharisees got very angry with Jesus for eating with Levi and his mafia tax gathering friends and the drunks and prostitutes of the city. He did not lecture them, but ate with them. There is all the difference between people who try to do good to us from a distance, and those who eat with us.
When Mollie and I were in India we noticed that the first sign of genuine conversion was when a high caste Brahmin was willing to take communion with low caste Christians.
When a child is adopted the first change is being able to eat at the family table. "Other children have to ask permission. But now I have a right to eat with this family." It is eating together that creates a family. And that can happen very quickly.
Have you noticed that when we go away to Camp Iawah for a parish week-end, we suddenly become a family as we eat together. People who never eat together cannot become family. That is why our weekly communion service is so important.
As Jesus said to one of the seven churches of Asia Minor, "Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me" (Revelation 3:20). That was addressed to a church congregation. But it also means that Jesus wants you to be family. And that means eating with him and other disciples.
But you can see he waits to be invited. We have to open the door. Why don't we do that as we talk to him in prayer.
Prayer Lord Jesus, I am astonished that you want me to be part
of your family. I have tended to keep you out of my life. Now I want to
eat at your table. As I open the door of my heart, please come in and eat