Table Revelation Is Glorious But Not Too Heavy
The Hebrew word for glory is "kabod," denoting the heavy weight of God's glory: "The glory of God filled the temple." (1Kings8,11)
Like the Hebrew coin, the shekel, was weighty in the hand.
Like a prayer meeting with the Holy Spirit falling.
Like when "Holy" "Holy" "Holy" fell on Isaiah in the Jerusalem Temple regarding his vision of a future messianic coronation (Isaiah 6).
All of God's word, as is the risen Jesus, is glorious, but sometimes seems too heavy to digest. So sometimes, like a stomach ache, we just wish it would go away.
We've done seventeen scriptural meditations on the Table and some of these may seem too scripturally "kabod" for our Lite tastes.
So why not just continue to ignore the whole subject?
But then again, the table is a command of Lord. Along with water baptism (vitally connected to Holy Ghost baptism, Acts 2,37-39), it is one of the two main biblical ordinances of our faith.
So it's likely more important than most of us realize.
So let's put on our big boy and big girl faith glasses and search a little deeper into it.
Who Can Preside At The Table?
As we have already waded in, it's time to ask 'who can preside at the table?'
We begin by going back to the Passover Seder meal to which Jesus had called his twelve Gallilean disciple-apostles. This yearly meal celebrated the deliverance of Israel out of Egyptian slavery and ordinarily was a neighborhood celebration of the clan.
It was not a meal celebrated by an ordained priesthood.
If the "Last Supper" had been just another yearly Passover seder, it would have included more than Jesus' household (but less than his tribe) with womenfolk and relatives, and neighbor widows, and children too.
But since it was dangerous to be associated with the prophet Jesus in Jerusalem just prior to his death, and since he chose to die there as the new and last Passover lamb of God, and since his apostles needed to witness the full meaning of his final days for their future ministry, just his apostolic core group attended.
But the exclusive presence of the male Apostles at the "Last Supper" is not essential to the new Spiritual sacrifice of Lord's Supper (1Peter2,5), or any supposed ordination of the Apostles there (Judas?).
They are at this new supper as his prophetically chosen spokespeople, his new prophets (Matthew 10 especially v. 41 and Luke 10,24 and, Amos 3,7) never ordained by Jesus, but with him on the eve of the national celebration of Passover, hearing a new and timely command to celebrate and proclaim a new deliverance supper for the benefit of the whole church, as his chief representatives.
His apostles also were his future judges, kings so to speak, of the twelve tribes during the future millenial reign (Matthew 19,28) chosen by the prophet Jesus, just as the prophets Samuel and Nathan and bible prophets of old were chosen by God:
"Änd by a prophet the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet he was preserved." Hosea 12,13
The Apostles are there to learn the transition from the seder supper to the new Lord's Supper, and as Jesus' first hand prophetic witnesses so they can pass on our need for his Passover blood on the lintels of our hearts (compare Exodus 12,7 and Hebrews 10,22). They were there so they could fully and soon proclaim salvation in Jesus' Name to the ends of the earth.
We know from the New Testament that ordinations were to local offices or specific missionary tasks, such as elders-presbyters or pastor-bishops, not to an altar bound-temple bound priesthood. Timothy was ordained local pastor at Ephesus after being identified by the local prophets (1Timothy1,18; 1Timothy 4,14). Likewise Paul and Barnabas were sent off on further gospel mission after they were prophetically identified, and after the local prophets and teachers at Antioch in Pisidia (modern day inland Turkey) laid hands on them.
The priesthood of the first Apostles (with the charism of apostleship, see 1Corinthians 12,28-29; Ephesians 4,11-12, Romans 1,5) is no different in degree or nature than the universal priesthood of all Christians (1Peter 2,5,9; Ephesians4,11-12; Revelation1,6; 5,10).
This priesthood comes by way of faith and the 'Promise of the father' (Luke 24,49; Acts, 1,4), unto becoming sanctified, set apart for holy use, a fitting temple of the Holy Ghost (1Corinthians 6,19, cf Acts 2,38-39, and 1Peter2,5).
So while Jesus called only men apostles to be the prophetic leaders of his church, they were not ordained into any hierarchical Sinai type of priesthood, or any extra special priesthood just for them. It is the priesthood of faith unto Holy Spirit infilling that fulfills God desire that all his people would be priests Exodus19,5-6 (cf also Numbers11,29: Would that all God's people were prophets.")
So why can't his present church (his official) apostles-prophets (and local pastors) delegate the celebration of the supper to any sanctified faither (baptized in the holy Ghost), man or woman?
(And perhaps our whole perspective is a bit askew about the table in that 1Corinthians10,16 speaks of the the bread that "we" bless and bread " and communion "we" are sharing. Perhaps it was led by the whole community!)
Perhaps it didn't matter who presided-celebrated- as long as that person, or persons, was full of the Spirit of God, to the biblical measure.
Not A Small Matter- But No New Testament Priestly Ordination Points The Way
This question of who can lead the Lord's Supper and how one is qualified to do so, is no small matter for church practice and leadership formation, not just for liturgical churches, but all churches.
The Protestant denominations are no less ordination centric (500 years after the Reformation!), as if pastoral ordination put one in a separate functionary and priestly caste too.
But what about the real biblical offices of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor teachers and all the rest of the little used gifts and offices of our beloved church (Ephesians 4,11-13, apostles listed first, 1Corinthians12,4-11,14; 14,26; Romans 12,4-6, prophecy listed as first, but as discussed above Matthew 10,41 and Luke 10,24 suggest the apostolic office is by Jesus definition prophetic so which office is first, as if they were completely separate, is a secondary concern).
But if we stay focused and render into our faith spirits the heavy fact that no one was ever ordained a priest in the New Testament, then digesting the idea of unordained women, or men, leading at the table of the Lord is a whole lot easier to stomach.
Perhaps we are taking the Holy Spirit life out of the Lord's Supper by limiting it to ordained pastors:
"Traditional and modern "ordination" concepts are unscriptural. The New Testament knows nothing of "ordaining" one man to an exalted, sacred and priestly "office" within a church. Neither does it teach that only "ordained" clergymen possess the right to baptize, preach, conduct the Lord's Supper, lead in congregational worship, and pronounce the blessing as if the rest of the believing community is unfit to carry out these functions. " Darryl Erkel "Problems With Traditional "Ordination." 5Solas.org;
"Those who are empowered to exercise a particular pastoral ministry in the chruch are not, at least as far as the New Testament tells us, a separate caste of consecrated priests, as they often are in primitive religions. They do not act as mediators between God and the people by means of ritual actions which they alone can perform, representing the people before God in sacrifice, and representing God to the people through oracular statements and law-giving. In the church of Jesus Christ, who is the only high priest and mediator, all the faithful are priests and clergy." Hans Kung, The Church, Sheed and ward, 1967, p. 438.
'Who can lead at the table' is a weighty question, but once it sinks in that Jesus didn't ordain priests at the Last Supper, but calls Apostles and Prophets and Pastor-Teachers, Evangelists, and all the rest that serve in his living Body, we glimpse the glory of this revelation, and then it becomes a lot easier to digest.
Once we understand that Jesus didn't ordain anyone a priest, the idea of men or churches claiming to mediate the risen Christ clearly becomes willful (1Timothy 2,5, Hebrews 8,6; 9,15; 12,24).
When the bible and Spirit are allowed to prophetically speak for themselves perhaps we can also more fully understand the weighty Spiritual sacrifice of the table, and also experience the glory of our communion there with Jesus' risen body and blood.
See also Table Meditation N. 21 (http://www.zionpentecostmission.com/table-of-lord-medn21.html) and a 10 minute video synopsis: http://vimeo/63572579
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...