Then he saw you.
“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world…’ ” v. 15
Yeshua just stood there in the corner of the room grinning and drinking in the reactions. Mary Magdalene squealed an “I told you to so.” type of laugh, then settled into her normal “Don’t mess with this girl.” stance, while the two who had seen him earlier stood together like a couple of bosses. The rest were frozen in disbelief. Then the reality seized them.
The silent shock evaporated into shouts, and tears. Yeshua held out his hands and embraced them all. Simon Peter nearly trampled the others to the floor and embraced his Lord, both men sobbing for the longest time.
After nearly an hour of embracing and talking, apologizing and forgiving each other all of them reclined around the table on the floor. Yeshua seemed to get a kick out of them staring at him while he ate. Crumbs and drops of wine don’t fall from the mouth of a ghost. Eventually he got them to eat as well. John nearly passed out when Yeshua decided to have some fun. He lifted up his wrist and peered through the hole at the beloved disciple, making him a bit queasy. After that everyone laughed and relaxed a little.
Usually meals together involved a great deal of mundane chatter, but what do you talk about at a time like this? When everything you thought was gone forever is suddenly given back to you, at your least deserving moment, what do you say in return? How do you say thanks in the face of such amazing grace? Moments like these are rare and only happen by the grace of God. They are neither earned nor deserved, they are just granted and received and passed on to others. Such a gift is never fully received until the recipient pays it forward. That is what Yeshua would tell them to do.
Eleven men and a few women sat there basking in this miracle of miracles. There was no doubt that they were dining in the very presence of God. They all marveled at such a gift, especially Simon Peter. They all wondered what they could possibly do in return. Yeshua, looked around the room. Before speaking he peered with a loving intensity into each of them. His gaze seemed to embrace each one completely, despite their weaknesses, fears and doubts. These were his brothers and sisters forever. In his eyes his saints were flawless. He saw what the future held for each of them. He saw how they would live, where they would go, what they would suffer and how they would die. Then he looked farther.
He saw generations of believers from every tribe, every tongue and every nation hearing his name, joining him at his table along with these. He saw men and women of all races and stations in life, kings, queens, thugs, terrorists, prostitutes, professors, and all sorts receiving his grace and passing it along until every nation on earth knew his name.
He continued to look. He saw some things that hurt to think about. He saw crusades and so-called “Holy wars”, inquisitions and witch hunts, and all sorts of evil done in his name. He saw wealthy religious empires trampling the poor into the dust. He saw church splits, political games, and sexual abuse perpetrated by those claiming to serve him. He saw self satisfied saints pushing people out rather than bringing them in, easy believism with no call to follow, and a gospel that calls people to a false prosperity. But even through all of those things he foresaw, he knew it would be worth it. Such darkness would serve only to form a contrast to accentuate the light.
Despite the darkness he saw billions saved and changed through the centuries. He saw Hospitals, orphanages, universities and charitable organizations, all birthed by the true work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. He saw faithful grandmothers kneeling beside their beds, saints sharing pieces of forbidden scriptures in prisons, and little children bringing their shiny offerings to Sunday school to help the missionaries around the world. He saw good neighbors caring for each other and faithful churches transforming communities. He saw innumerable seeds of grace springing up across the centuries. But do you know what he saw that really touched his heart? What really made it worth all the toil and perils?
He saw you. He saw you in this moment. Right here. Right now hearing his gospel. He saw you being invited to come, just as you are with all your good and bad, all your strength and weakness, all your joy and brokenness, and join him at this table of incredible grace and pass it on. When he saw the look in your face he smiled and said to his Apostles:
“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation….”
And that is the beginning of the gospel. It begins afresh every time someone joins him at the table. Let it begin with you today, and every day let it begin again, until the whole world knows.