All of the relationships in your life don’t operate under the same premises. Undoubtedly, you have some people that you’re closer to while there are other acquaintances or even friends who just aren’t a part of your daily life. Moreover, there may be some people in your life who you feel a strained relationship with. A look at one of the events from Jesus’ life tells us more about the importance of having diverse relationships in your own life.
Matthew 26:18 (TPT)
He answered them, “My heart longs with great desire to eat this Passover meal with you. Go into Jerusalem and you will encounter a man. Tell him that the teacher says, ‘My appointed time is near. I am coming to your home to eat the Passover meal with my disciples.’”
There is something powerful about sitting down and sharing a meal with another person. Whether it’s a first date at a local restaurant, a business meeting that takes place over finger foods, or a family dinner with your immediate and extended family, there is a certain level of vulnerability that is found in sharing a meal with one or more other people. In general, during a meal, your self-made walls are down.
That’s what makes this act of Christ one of the most powerful in his three-plus year ministry. No, the Last Supper didn’t contain any miracles. No one who was blind received their sight over dinner, and no one who was dead was brought back to life. Jesus didn’t multiple the food that was served at the Last Supper so it could be used to feed the multitudes. Instead, it was an opportunity for Him to sit down with all the disciples (we will discuss the importance of all the disciples being there later on) and spend one last evening in genuine fellowship with them.
It’s easy to read the accounts of the Last Supper (it is recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and simply go through the story to get to the drama associated with Christ’s subsequent arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection. Unfortunately, if you read the Last Supper like that, you miss out on several of the principles that we can learn through the accounts of Christ’s last “normal” night on earth.
The disciples were not all the same kinds of people. In fact, they were very diverse. Some of them came from different backgrounds, and each of the 12 disciples had his own personality. With those unique personalities, you will notice that each of the disciples had his own quirks, idiosyncrasies, and baggage. Yet Christ did not only call a few of the disciples to the Last Supper. Instead, He invited everyone to His table.
What does your table look like? Is it surrounded only by people who look like you, think like you, and behave like you? Or do you have people who aren’t too similar to you sitting around your table? If you’re table isn’t very diverse, consider looking for opportunities to add people who provide different insights into your life to your guestlist.
People Who Love You Unconditionally
John 13:23-25 (TPT)
The disciple that Jesus dearly loved was at the right of him at the table and was leaning his head on Jesus. Peter gestured to the disciple to ask Jesus who it was he was referring to. Then the dearly loved disciple leaned into Jesus’ chest and whispered, “Master, who is it?”
Jesus had just dropped the bombshell that one of the disciples was about to betray him. Judas (a man we’re going to discuss later on) knew that he had already set the wheels of betrayal into motion. However, the other 11 disciples were all wondering which one it was going to be. Judas knew, Jesus knew, but no one else was aware.
It is slightly ironic that John’s Gospel is the only one that refers to him as the “beloved disciple,” but if you were the person who was closest to Jesus, you would probably want to write about that too! However, this relationship between John and Jesus is the first kind that you need to have at your table.
It’s important that you have people in your life who love you unconditionally. When you have a support system in place, you’re more likely to be able to face adversity. However, unconditional love isn’t the same thing as unconditional approval.
Obviously, John never had to correct Jesus. Jesus was infallible, and God in the flesh. We’re not. Having someone at your table who loves you in the good and bad times doesn’t mean that they won’t tell you when you’re wrong. Instead, it means that they will love you even when you’re wrong. Find some people to sit at your table who love you the way that John loved Jesus.
People Who Are Willing to Disagree with You
John 13:37-38 (TPT)
Peter said, “What do you mean I’m not able to follow you now? I would sacrifice my life to die for you!” Jesus answered, “Would you really lay down your life for me, Peter? Here’s the absolute truth: Before the rooster crows in the morning, you will say three times that you don’t even know me!”
Peter was always willing to talk. In fact, there were a couple times in Peter’s life where his mouth got him into some trouble. For instance, the first time Jesus discussed his impending crucifixion, Peter told Him that it would never happen! Jesus rebuked Peter openly. In this example, Jesus told Peter that Peter would deny Him three times before sunrise, and Peter quickly disagreed. Then, in the very next chapter, Peter proceeded to do exactly what Jesus said he would.
Obviously, we understand that Jesus was always right, so when Peter disagreed with Him, Peter was wrong. However, it speaks volumes that Jesus chose to keep Peter around. Not only was Peter always one of the 12 disciples, but we often read about Peter, James, and John being taken to places that the other 9 disciples didn’t go. Peter was one of Jesus’ closest three friends.
Do you have people at your table who disagree with you? This doesn’t mean that you have people at your table who look for opportunities to insult you. But do you have people sitting at your table who are willing to offer a differing opinion?
We often recoil at the idea of having people at our table who tell us they think we’re wrong. However, it’s important to do so. When you have someone in your life who can offer a differing viewpoint, it allows you to see things without your personal bias clouding your judgement.
People Who Need Your Grace
John 13:4-5 (TPT)
So he got up from the meal and took off his outer robe, and took a towel and wrapped it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ dirty feet and dry them with his towel.
Finally, do you have people at the table who need your grace and mercy? When Jesus was washing feet, the Bible doesn’t say that He skipped Judas. No, he put the feet of the man who was going to lead the Roman guards to Him in His hands and washed them in the ultimate act of servitude.
This doesn’t mean that you surround yourself with people who are willing to betray you. Instead, having someone at the table who needs your grace means that you extend forgiveness to people. The easiest thing to do is to write someone off once they’ve done something to hurt you. However, some of our offenses are the product of a genuine mistake. Be willing to keep people at your table who need your forgiveness.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for the people You have placed in my life. I value the friendships and relationships that I have. Help me to examine the people at my table and look for an opportunity to add more chairs. In Christ’s name, Amen