I sat down one day last week, and I asked myself, what is ONE PARAGRAPH that has shaped my understanding of scripture as much or more than anything else? This is one paragraph that came to my mind. It is from John Mark Hicks’ book “Come to the Table” (2002). I first read this in June of 2004. It is the opening paragraph to the entire book.
God never intended an altar, though he planned for it. Instead, God intended a table to enjoy the communion of his people. While the altar epitomizes the atoning work of God in forgiving sin, the table epitomizes the experience of communion. The altar, the cross of Jesus Christ, was a means to an end. It was the penultimate act of God in order to bring about, through atonement, the ultimate intent of God, which is communion. The altar was an act of self-humiliation for the sake of the table. The altar, in terms of its goal, serves the table. The altar, by its atoning work, enables the table. Atonement secures communion. The cross grounds the table.