52 Weeks At the Table – Week 14
An older man. A younger woman. He was a Jew, perhaps never married. She was from hated Moab, a widow. He was wealthy. She was destitute. It would seem that they had nothing in common – so the stage is set in the four brief chapters of Ruth for one of the most treasured love stories in scripture. It is a beautiful dance of first-look attraction, of quaint custom revolving around levirate marriage law, and the counsel of a doting dance coach. Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, would observe the ritual from afar, returning the loyalty and love of her foreign daughter-in-law by dispensing the right advice at the right time. It would all seem to be a matter of chance – how Ruth and Boaz meet; their common clan; the nearer kinsman-redeemer’s existing marriage and inheritance – were it not for the name of the Lord, invoked in blessing at every seeming coincidence. They meet while harvesting grain in his field – grain that would doubtless be made into bread – and he invites her to a meal: “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” She eats her fill. Later, after he has celebrated with wine, she demonstrates to him her desire to be covered by his tent. Bread. Wine. A few dipped morsels together. A sandal exchanged in a pledge of purchase and troth. A bond that would lead to the birth of wealthy King David’s grandfather … and a poor Descendent whose cross would describe Him as The King of the Jews.
Two men among twelve, both Jews, both friends, both travelers in a ministry pilgrimage that covered many miles, fed many mouths, healed many stricken bodies, soothed many tortured souls, immersed many penitent believers. It would have seemed that they had everything in common – yet Jesus and Judas were from completely different worlds. So the stage is set in the latter words of each gospel for the most horrifyingly fascinating story of love and betrayal in all of scripture. For Judas’ heart was in bound up in his purse – a child of this world; an open door to the temptation of Satan. Jesus’ heart was the most free of any man who ever lived – a child of heaven and earth; free to love all, open even to someone who would betray Him. They shared a meal. Bread. Wine. A few dipped morsels together. Then Jesus spoke the truth they both knew: “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.” Their bond was shattered. No remorse could un-do it. Not even a kiss could repair it – for the kiss was the sign that would betray the King of heaven into the hands of hell … a life exchanged in a pledge of purchase and troth by the nearest Kinsman-Redeemer of all.
May the glory of Your visage, Holy Father, contain a look of love toward us even when we betray the Son we love by our sin, our denial. Rekindle in our penitent hearts the love we had at first glance over the sharing of these morsels of bread, His body. Observe and advise us in love. Reunite us in the One with Whom we have too often broken our bond of faith and fealty. Through Jesus Himself we ask You, and confirm with our “Amen!”
Almighty One of all ages, we crave the bond with You that was pledged and purchased with the blood of Your Son so that we would no longer be foreigners, but family. Bring us together always around this, His table, to remember with this cup how poor we were, and how generous You are. Help us see Your providence when we are tempted to only see coincidence. May we always invoke Your name in blessing through Jesus. Amen!