Your spot

John 13:21-32
The joke is Jesus went to the restaurant and asked for a table for twenty five. Only the twelve disciples were with him. So, why did he need so many seats? Because they were only going to sit on one side of the table.

That’s the image Leonardo da Vinci made famous. It’s the depiction of Jesus and his disciples in The Last Supper. The scene details the disciples’ reaction to what Jesus has told them. That one of them will betray him. Some seem shocked and angry. Others look confused and surprised. One clutches the money bag as he spills salt on the table.

The horizontal view of the painting is for us. It was not meant to illustrate the actual seating arrangement. Imagine trying to get a table like that even at Chili’s.

We’ve learned most likely the table was u-shaped. We can’t help but imagine also they sat in chairs at an elevated table. When the gospels tell us the disciples reclined, that suggests something different. The table was much closer to the ground. Jesus and his disciples sat on the floor. The Romans called this a triclinium. They leaned over the table on their left side.

Let’s also consider where the disciples sat. Tradition tells us the places to the right and left of the host were honorable. Jesus was the host and John had the honorable spot. This made it easy for the beloved disciple to lean into Jesus’ chest to ask him a question. In The Last Supper, Judas is away from Jesus. But there is an argument that Judas reclined next to Jesus to his left. The host would serve the person on the left first. Judas received the bread from Jesus himself.

What was Judas doing sitting at a place of honor?

We all know what he is about to do do. We also know Jesus knew what he was about to do. Remember when our Lord taught to not sit in the place of honor when you get invited to a wedding (Luke 14:8)? It could be Judas forgot that teaching. Or, since it wasn’t a wedding, did he think that didn’t apply to him? We’re good at making exceptions for ourselves.

Of course, we should also consider Jesus told him to sit there. That sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it? He is the One who rejoices over finding one lost sheep and one coin. I imagine he’s the life of the party when one sinner repents (Luke 15:10).

And he’s the One that knows our sin. He knows how unfaithful we are. How fickle we can be. We mentioned the spilled salt in The Last Supper. It’s a small detail that illustrates a breaking of covenant. How often do we do that?

But still, our Lord gives us a place next to him. He doesn’t shoo us away from his presence. Instead, he gives us the freedom to do what we’re going to do. So, what are you going to do with that kind of love and grace?

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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