52 Weeks at the Table – Week 27
After the death of Elisha, another succession of wicked kings ruled Jerusalem – with the exception of Josiah, the reformer-king who sought to destroy the altars and worship-objects of the detestable false gods and rebuilt the temple and re-instituted Passover. It was not enough to turn the hearts of Judah back to God or to turn His wrath away from their sin – so God turned His back on them, as it had been with Israel to the north. Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, and when he had starved its populace into submission, he razed its holy and royal buildings to the ground. Those who escaped deportation to Babylon, fled to Egypt. The second of the acrostic Lamentations mourns:
My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within, my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers, “Where is bread and wine?” as they faint like wounded men in the streets of the city, as their lives ebb away in their mothers’ arms. (2:11-12)
It was a meal featuring bread and wine which preceded the capture of Jesus and His final exile to a cross on a hill outside of Jerusalem. The apostle whom he loved records that there He entrusted the care of his mother to John just before a spongeful of wine vinegar was lifted to His dehydrated lips. Then He surrendered His Spirit and bore the weight of sin not-His-own to the death He did not deserve. (John 19)
A Prayer Over the Bread
Holy, Righteous, One God … what You have done for us in giving Your Son exceeds the boundaries of love and grace that man can perceive. It is inexplicable, inexpressible and incomprehensible. We cannot grasp nor measure its dimensions. We can only bow, with this bread – His body – dissolving in our mouths as His sacrifice dissolves our sins, and remember Him in gratitude a for which we have no sufficient words. Amen.
A Prayer Over the Cup
Sovereign Lord God, if we can only begin to understand the grief and pain of Jesus’ mother at the cross, then we can surely do no more to comprehend Your own as His Father. We remember the trembling of the earth; the rending of the temple’s veil; the moment of Your wrath expressed to and yet withheld from us by the grace of His blood. Bless this cup – His blood – and we who share it to always remember Him, and remember why. Amen.