Back in 2012, there was a movie made about hunger in America narrated by Jeff Bridges. It was called A Place at the Table. My reflection this month is about a different kind of hunger and a different kind of table, but a table, nonetheless.
In His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5- 7), Jesus begins with what we call “the Beatitudes”. In one of those He says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
Do you remember the last time you were physically hungry? Notice I didn’t say, “starving”. Most of us don’t know what it’s like to be truly starving, but we all have experienced pangs of hunger. And when we do, we often focus on nothing else but satisfying that twinge of hunger. We just don’t do it to the extent of someone who is really starving does.
But my point is this: Jesus is saying that we need to desire righteousness just like we do when we are physically hungry— focusing on satisfying that hunger. The beauty of His beatitude is the promise that when we do desire to be righteous, we “will be filled”. I think this is a great example of God’s grace to us in Jesus Christ. In his book, Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine, Max Lucado says it this way:
“To live as God’s child is to know, at this very instant, that you are loved by your Maker not because you try to please Him and succeed, or fail to please Him and apologize, but because He wants to be your Father. Nothing more. All your efforts to win His affection are unnecessary. All your fears of losing His affection are needless.You can no more make Him want you than you can convince Him to abandon you. The adoption is irreversible. You have a place at His table.”
Maybe that’s why we call giving thanks to God before every meal “Grace”.
The picture at the top of this article hangs in my dining room. The caption under it, Come, for all things are now ready, is from Jesus’ Parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:17). Indirectly, He is telling us what He later explicitly tells His disciples, “I am going to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). The picture is there to remind me, and anyone else who dines with me, that if I truly desire to be righteous, Jesus says, “Come, I have prepared a place for you at my table and you will be filled” (John 14:3).
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Rich Pollock is a retired Presbyterian minister. He lives in Topsail Beach with his wife Julia. Both are active affiliates of Emma Anderson Memorial Chapel. Rich happily fills in at the pulpit when a guest minister is unavailable to lead us in Sunday worship.