Advent 2013: Day 20

 

 

Why do prisons provide a condemned man with a lavish meal the night before he is to die? Believe it or not, you can go on the Web and find photos of men on death row next to the last meal they chose to have before facing execution. The meals requested varied from a plate of mint chocolate chip ice cream to steak and eggs, from a single tortilla and water to a garden salad.

 

According to Wikipedia, “In pre-modern Europe, granting the condemned a last meal has roots in superstition that in that a meal was a highly symbolic social act. Accepting freely offered food symbolized making peace with the host. . . . in accepting the last meal, the condemned was believed to forgive the executioner, the judge, and witness(es).” And the better the meal, the more effective the peace.

 

Centuries earlier, in Bible times, the author of Proverbs 31:6 wrote, “Give strong drink to him that is ready to perish, and wine to those that have heavy hearts.”

 

Jesus shared one final meal with his disciples. In Luke 22:19-20, Jesus met with his followers in an upper room to celebrate the Passover. Judas sat among them. Jesus lifted a cup with his hands, he broke bread with his fingers. He sipped the wine with his lips.

 

Like the dying man in Proverbs, Jesus had a heavy heart. He knew that the next day he would die. Yet the Passover meal, with a menu he had chosen thousands of years earlier, served a greater purpose. At the cross, Jesus offered forgiveness, but at the meal he offered a gift of peace to those he loved. “Peace I leave with you.”

 

You and I never know which meal might be our last. Don’t wait to make peace with those you love.

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