“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”
Mark 2:13-17 Luke 7:33-34 1 Cor. 11:23-26 Gal. 2:11-14
Rev. Paul E. Capetz
Christ Church by the Sea (United Methodist),
Newport Beach August 4, 2019
Today we celebrate communion. It is one of the two central rituals of the Christian church, the other being baptism. Communion means “fellowship” and in the ritual of communion we celebrate our fellowship with Christ and with one another. Communion is also called by two other names. Sometimes it is called “The Lord’s Supper” since it is Jesus who is the host of this meal. It is also known as the “Eucharist” which means “thanksgiving.”
When we celebrate communion, we remember Jesus’s last supper with his disciples before his arrest and execution. Our earliest record of Christians celebrating communion for the purpose of remembering Jesus’ death is found in the passage from Paul in 1 Corinthians that was just read for us. But the gospels report that Jesus shared many meals with other people and the first such report comes from Mark’s gospel, which is the earliest gospel we have. While Paul’s letters are earlier than the gospels, Mark’s is the earliest of our four gospels. And the first supper that Mark records is the story of Jesus eating in the house of Levi the tax collector. Whereas Jesus’s last supper is forever associated with the memory of his betrayal and death, Jesus’ first supper evoked a scandal because he was seen eating with the wrong people. For this reason, we have to ask: is there a relation between the first supper and the last supper? Did the kind of shocking behavior exhibited by Jesus in his first recorded supper have anything to do with why he was later betrayed by one of his own disciples and why he was executed? Did the first supper set in motion a series of events that led, step by step, to the last supper?