Jesus and His apostles are reclining around a common table. This is the last time they’ll share a meal like this, and Jesus knows it. He knows that Judas is going to sell him out. In fact, at the moment I’m thinking of, Judas has already left to do that.
Jesus knows what’s coming for Him later tonight. When He looks around the table, He knows what’s coming for His friends, too. He knows what they’re going to suffer for His sake in the next few hours, in the next few days, in all their years to come. Knowing all that, what will He say to them in the little time that’s left around this table?
In professional sports, team nutricionists carefully calculate the specific nutrients that will give each individual athlete his or her maximum strength and endurance for the upcoming game. They take into account the athlete’s current condition. Is she recovering from an injury? Is he exhausted? They also take into account the conditions expected for the game. Will the weather be especially cold? Especially hot? All of that goes into prescribing the exact food and drink that will give the athlete the best nutritional base possible for the physical challenges of game day.
I suspect Jesus has thought along those lines as He looks around this table. What are the most important things His friends need to know in order to face their coming challenge? What do they need to hear in this moment, and what can wait? Jesus knows. There’s no question that He knows. What does Peter need to understand right now in order to sustain him? Thomas? John? This is their Creator and their Good Shepherd. He knows them in and out and loves them through and through. He knows exactly what spiritual food to serve them here and now. It will be exactly what they need to sustain them through the challenges to come. It will have all the spiritual nutrients that they need to keep fighting the good fight.
Furthermore, Jesus knows that He’s not just talking to those present at this moment, but to every one who will gather around His table in the centuries to come. He knows He’s not just talking to His apostles. He knows He’s talking to us today, too. He knows how many generations of His lambs will sustain their life in Him with what He is about to say around this table. And I sincerely believe He knows something more. He knows not just how many lambs will feed on these words, but who. I mean He sat at that table and looked down the corridors of time and saw exactly who would dine with Him in their time, and knew each of His future followers by name, all the way down to you reading John 15 at breakfast this morning.
So Jesus looks around this table. What do all of us most need to hear from Him right now? Right now, as His hour approaches? He knows. So it’s out of His deep love and infinite understanding that He speaks:
“I am the vine, you are the branches….”