This amazing painting by Caravaggio is compelling. In the painting, the artist invites us to join this amazing dinner party. It’s the scene after the first Easter and is titled, “The Supper at Emmaus.” It’s a favorite Bible story because Jesus reveals himself to his companions at the table. They did not recognize him on their long walk. They did not recognize him anywhere but at the table. There they recognize the nail pierced hands, the love of Jesus in their midst and their hope for many more Easter experiences. As Jesus broke the bread, their dullness of insight was also broken. Everything changed because of the table–and who was sitting around the table.
This Lenten Season, I’ve sat with this painting explored more in depth by Juliet Benner in her remarkable and inviting book that I’m using this Lent.
What must these followers of Jesus be thinking? Be feeling? Be experiencing at this moment of transformation when their eyes were opened? Imagine this as you study the painting. I so want to be there with them…with him.
I like it that Jesus’ hand is outstretched to me. It is as if I, too, belong there. I like it that there is room at the table for me. I like it that in that scene of intimacy, I too, would have my eyes widened and opened which I so need these days. I long to sit at a table like that. Don’t you?
As you find out in following Blog entries, this picture has so captivated me for some years now since it first came to may attention that it lays the foundation for our own ministry to begin having intimate gatherings, around the table, where we can too, experience the love of Jesus in our midst. It is what is missing in the fast pace, hurry sickened, fast food nation that we are living in. There seems to be no time for such intimate dinners. But why?
The table of Jesus is where he did most of his teaching; where many were found by the love of God and where men and women were ushered in the church of two or three that Jesus spoke about and wanted us to also experience.
This is the Jesus Meal.
This is where I belong.
This is where I am invited.
This is my only hope.
Caravaggio knew something that I’m wanting to know. Through the medium of his art, I can find my place at the table where I belong. Where you belong.
It is our Lenten Hope.
This is my Lenten Journey
Stephen W. Smith