52 Weeks at the Table – Week 25
When King Solomon passed away, Judah had been separated from the rest of Israel by their sin. It is a sorry succession of kings which follows the reign of Solomon – who himself had fallen prey to the temptations of wealth and wives, and had fallen into idolatry. Among these kings the Lord sent prophets and men of God (some good; some poor in character) to set them aright or just tell them of the doom they have earned. Elijah outshone them all, even though he, too, had moments of fear and doubt. When a drought caused Elijah’s brook to dry up and he had to move on from where ravens fed him, the Lord sent him to the house of a widow in Zarephath and her son. God provided for them through containers of flour and oil that were always, miraculously, full. When the boy died, Elijah’s prayer restored his life (1 Kings 17). Similarly, following Elisha’s instructions, a prophet’s widow and two sons found relief from debt through a vessel of oil that did not cease pouring until there were no more vessels to pour into. And Elisha was hosted in Shunem by a woman whose husband was old – yet Elisha’s prophecy of a baby in her arms came true. And when the boy later died, Elisha did as his master had done with the widow’s son – and the child revived. Not much later, he fed a hundred with a mere twenty loaves of barley bread (2 Kings 4).
Jesus, known as a prophet during His incarnation, also fed replenishing bread to five thousand (Matthew 14) and four thousand (Matthew 15) and, shortly after healing the illness of a centurion’s servant, raised a widow’s son to life (Luke 7) – as well as His dear friend Lazarus (John 11). In the end, His compassion led to His demise, for there John records: “Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. ‘What are we accomplishing?’ they asked. ‘Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.’ “ Then, Matthew adds: “So from that day on they plotted to take his life.”
A Prayer Over the Bread
Undiminishable Father God, we praise You because Your mercy toward us has no end, pouring forth like the oil and flour that made bread for Elijah, the widow and her son. In our spiritual poverty, You have provided Your Son through Your limitless compassion, to let Him be consumed like bread. Through Him, You give us the strength of His righteousness and we are filled. Bless now this bread, we pray in the name of Jesus: Amen.
A Prayer Over the Cup
Holy, Unchanging One, there is perhaps no miracle more powerful than the way the blood of Your Son changes us; transforms us into Your likeness with ever-increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Through Him, we cross over from death to life (John 5:24). For this incomparable miracle – the ongoing resurrection of our lives from dead pursuits to eternal glory; for this incomparable blood and the cup it fills, we thank You in Jesus’ name: Amen.