“No Seconds” by Henry Hargreaves
It might seem odd to discuss Death Row inmates’ last meals and the Last Supper, but I don’t find it much of a stretch. Here’s a few reasons why:
- Jesus knew he would be killed in a few hours, as too those on Death Row.
- Although it’s after this meal that Jesus will be sentenced to crucifixion. Those on Death Row are often convicted several years before they’re executed.
- Death Row prisoners and Jesus are both executed by the State: Roman Crucifixion and US Execution.
Yet, it’s not just these similarities that I find compelling to think through last meals, it’s also in the Letter to the Hebrews that speaks of prisoners. It reads,
Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. (Heb. 13.3)
Who would’ve ever thought the Bible could be so political?
The writer to the Hebrews writes that we should remember those in prison, as if we are there ourselves. Death row prisoners, whom our system of justice has declared not to be worthy of existence, are our sisters and brothers. Yet, often these prisoners do not dine with their families or friends, but by themselves with guards watching. Indeed, an isolating last meal.
But this was not so with Jesus’ Last Supper. It was also no da Vinci-like portrait. It would’ve been tense, chaotic, and absolutely un-chill. There would’ve been more than just his male disciples, but also women and children and probably even some animals. It was less cozy, and more like trying to find a seat at Starbucks during a rush. When you have to stand over by the sugar and straws waiting for someone to leave their spot. That’s the Last Supper.
The Letter to the Hebrews was written decades after the Last Supper, but speaks to the heart of the Gospel, which was found that night:
To Be There.
Be there for those who have their voice actively silenced.
Be there for Death Row prisoners, no matter what the courts have said they have done.
Be there in prayer.
Be there in letters.
Be there at the table.
Be there just as Christ
who goes before us,
and with us.