Lesson Two • Serving Even When It Is Hard
Devotion #1: A Seat at the Table
Pastor John Carter
I really enjoy the story of Ruth. It is a true love story that precedes the greatest love story ever told. The greatest love story ever spoken of is obviously the story of Jesus. We will see a lot of similarities and correlations between the story of Ruth and the story of Jesus.
As you read passages in the book of Ruth, there is a lot of detail that seems somewhat irrelevant in the connections between Ruth and Jesus. For example, Ruth 1:22 says, “So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.”
You might just assume this is just useless filler in the story of Ruth. It may seem like a line that is used for the sole purpose of setting a narrative, or just basic information. It is from this very verse that we can make some very significant connections to the story of Jesus. This city, Bethlehem, is the very city where Jesus would later be born. That alone might not seem very significant but the connection goes much deeper. The information on the timing of the harvest of the barley fields is particularly fascinating to me. This would have started sometime in March and would have continued till the fields were completely harvested. Once the harvest was completed, the farmers or owners of the fields, someone like Boaz, allowed shepherds to bring in the herds of sheep to the field. This was to allow the sheep to clean the fields and help fertilize them for the next growing season. It is during this time after the harvest that in the story of Jesus’ birth, angels appeared to the shepherds, possibly these very fields that Ruth gleaned barley from to care for her mother-in-law. The angels shared with the shepherds a very particular message. It was a message that has very similar parallels to the story of Ruth.
Luke 2:10–11 says, “And the angel said to them [Shepherds], ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”
You can read the whole encounter in Luke chapter 2. In just a few short verses of the story of Luke, a whole multitude of the host of heaven proclaim this amazing message. Luke 2:14 adds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
This message that the angels shared with the shepherds is very similar to the hope that Ruth is desiring. Ruth and her mother-in-law only have the option to go to these fields and beg for grain. This is the only way they can obtain sustenance for life. I am sure as a young woman, Ruth had much to be anxious about and certainly, she faced many of her fears. As a woman in a foreign land begging for food, who would ever show any kindness to her and provide her with an option of salvation?
We see a reflection of Christ in the person Boaz, and the desperation of Ruth is very relatable to our own condition as sinners against God. When it comes to our salvation, we have very limited options in ourselves and they fail us. We may be overwhelmed with fears. When we view our true condition of sin we find ourselves in need of begging God for help.
Just as in the story of Jesus in Luke chapter 22, Ruth experiences a wonderful encounter. It is when a person (Boaz) shows incredible kindness and in a sense repays the faithfulness of Ruth to her mother-in-law. He does this by showing her great mercy and grace. You can read this in Ruth 2:8-13.
Ruth 2:11-12 says, “But Boaz answered her, ‘All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!’”
As you read the entire passage, you see this amazing kindness that Boaz shows Ruth. His kindness goes way above and beyond anything Ruth would have expected as a foreign woman. What Boaz does for her is a true picture of mercy and grace. This is the very thing in the story of Jesus that we, as sinful people, can also relate to. God does not just offer us the bare minimum option of grace and mercy. He goes way above and beyond to include us as His very own family. I love that Boaz invites her to his table for food.
Ruth 2:14 says, “And at mealtime Boaz said to her, ‘Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.’ So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over.”
This is the same thing Jesus offers us, a seat at His table. It is a place where we can be satisfied, comforted, and experience peace. As you read the story of Ruth, I think you will find many similarities to the story of Jesus. As we apply these things to our own family, we can start to see how in many ways we can also show kindness, mercy, and grace to one another in our own immediate family. We can follow the example of Jesus and Boaz in showing the greatest love that has ever been recorded for us. The story of Ruth and Boaz is a great picture of the story of you (me) and Jesus.