‘You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons (1 Corinthians 10:21).’
‘“You offer defiled food on My altar, but say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’ By saying, ‘The table of the LORD is contemptible (Malachi 1:7).”’
Both of the above texts refer to ‘tables’: one belonging to the Lord Jesus; one belonging to the LORD [Yahweh]; and one belonging to demons. Please note that the one belonging to the LORD is identified as His ‘altar’.
All Scripture is significant. No word of Scripture is perchance (2 Timothy 3:16). It is crafted in truth for the express purpose of revealing the will of God, and specifically for bringing people to Him in repentance and faith. Jesus came to the earth for that very reason – to save a people for eternal life with God. Jesus is the Intermediary and Advocate (1 John 2:1), who by the giving of His body and the shedding of His blood at the cross, atones for the sin of the elect (Ephesians 1:7). His righteousness is imputed to them (Romans 4:22-25).
Jesus at the Passover Meal
On the evening of His betrayal by Judas, Jesus and His disciples commemorated the Passover. He ‘took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, “For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:26-28).”’
Jesus made no mention of a table, but as was the custom when eating a Passover meal, He and His disciples reclined (v 20) on couches that were probably arranged around a series of tables. Having blessed and broken the unleavened bread, He no doubt passed parts of it to those nearest to Him. They in turn would have done the same until all had their share. Then they would have eaten it according to the command of Jesus (v 26).
What was remarkable about this particular Passover meal was the statement of Jesus, “Take, eat; this is My body.” The disciples could see that the broken bread was not His literal body, but later they would come to understand that it symbolically represented His body which was broken on the cross.
Then He took what would have been the ‘cup of blessing’ in His hands and He ‘gave thanks’. This was followed with another remarkable statement, ‘“… this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (v 28).”’ Obviously the wine in the cup wasn’t His blood, but figuratively and symbolically it represented His blood that would flow from His body when on the cross. The shedding of this unique blood would secure a pardon and forgiveness of sins (v 28).
Interestingly Jesus made no mention of a ‘table’. Paul the Apostle on the other hand spoke of a table that He described as ‘the Lord’s table’, and he contrasted it to ‘the table of demons (1 Corinthians 10:21).’ Each of these figurative tables represented altars upon which sacrifices were placed. No doubt Paul cast his mind back to the instruction God gave Moses, ‘“You shall set the table outside the veil, and the lampstand across from the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south; and you shall put the table on the north side (Exodus 26:35).”’
A Perpetual Memorial [Statute]
Upon that table there would have been twelve baked cakes made from fine flour, laid out in two rows of six. They were ‘for a memorial, an offering made by fire to the LORD (Leviticus 24:6, 7).’ Every Sabbath the old cakes were replaced with fresh ones, and Aaron and his sons ate the old in a holy place (v 9). Those, offerings ‘made by fire to the LORD (v 7) were ‘most holy’ and a ‘perpetual statute (v 9)’.
A comparison can be made with the ‘perpetual statute …. made by fire to the LORD’ and the statute of the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus (Matthew 26:28). The Levitical statute was perpetual for as long as the Mosaic Law was in force; so too is the memorial of remembrance (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) of the death of our Lord until His coming again.
Both statutes can thus be defined as ‘perpetual’, but the new has replaced the old (Hebrews 9). Jesus is the ‘bread of life (John 6:35, 48),’ and those who [figuratively] eat His flesh and drink His blood have eternal life (John 6:54).
What is ‘the Lord’s Table’?
Finally, then, what is ‘the Lord’s table’? It is a convenient terminology used by Christians today to describe the coming together of the Body of Christ [His Church] to celebrate the memorial of His death until His coming again. We say for example, “Will I see you at the Lord’s table next Sunday?” or “I’m looking forward to being with my brothers and sisters at the Lord’s table.”
If there is a table at the meeting place it has no significance. It is not an altar; it is a convenience for placing the elements of bread and wine. Our minds are set on meeting the Lord and giving Him the praise He deserves for our eternal salvation.