In essence a table is a place reserved for feasting and enjoying one another’s company. It is a space that holds the meal and provides a setting for people to gather together. Yet as one travels through the biblical usage of “table,” they can find a deeper and more significant meaning. The table is a place of blessing as found in the “table of the bread of the presence” where the bread represents those of faith. They are before the presence of God continually. The table also pictures God as the ultimate host (Psalm 23) who sets our table and fills our cups to overflowing joy. Job is reminded that God provides him a “table laden with choice food,” representing the provision of the Lord. Furthermore, as Joseph’s brothers gathered around the table with him in Egypt they knew they were guilty and deserving death, yet Joseph’s table was not one of vengeance but forgiveness.
What ultimately rests upon the table top in scripture is the Gospel message, pictured in the Table of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus tells his close friends that the meal is a picture of the suffering he was about to endure on the cross and the provision this would bring to the spiritually hungry. Just as Joseph’s table was a place of forgiveness so too does the Lord’s Supper table hold the imagery of provision for forgiveness. Though we deserved to be cast away from the meal, God has not done away with us, but at the cost of his own life has called us to dine with him in an intimate relationship.
Tables are not only a metaphor for our present and past reality, but also our future hope. The Lord’s Supper Table recalls the forgiveness of the Passover meal and Jesus’ death as the Sacrificial Lamb (1 Cor 5:7), and it also points ahead to the great feast that is to come.
What Jesus purchased forus is a seat with him at the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19). This will be a place where former things will have passed away and our tears will be no more. Therefore the imagery of the table brings to mind God’s provision, protection, presence, and forgiveness. The table supplies our deepest felt human need and hunger – fellowship with God himself. This place of blessing looks back to the forgiveness purchased on the Cross of Christ, and forward to the place of rejoicing in the Kingdom of God. Lady Wisdom cries out to us to come dine at God’s table, “To him who lacks understanding she says, ‘Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live…’” (Prov 9) Like Mephibosheth we are both lame and unworthy to sit at the table of the Great King (2 Sam 9), and yet by grace Jesus has carried us to The Table.