When I think of Jesus having a meal, the old Slim Dusty song comes to mind but with a slight change to the words.
I love to have a meal with Jesus, I love to have a meal with Him.
We eat in moderation, And we never ever ever ever overindulge,
We eat in the town or country, Where the atmosphere is great
Oooh, I love to have a meal with Jesus, ‘Cos Jesus is me mate!!!
This is the first in a series looking at the meals of Jesus. Where were they, who was there and what was he saying as he ate and drank with the disciples, with sinners, with tax collectors, with outcasts, with women and with the Pharisees. The bible is very clear about how important eating and drinking are with others. It is in fact a very sacred, universal, spiritual experience to enter and to share with others. At the very beginning of the Bible, the first thing God does for humanity is present us with a menu: “The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food” (Gen. 2:8-9). At the end of the Bible story, in Revelation, God sets before us a perpetual feast of which all who have followed him will be seated at. God likes doing the catering. He thinks food is a good thing.
Jesus is referred to as the Son of Man 81 times in the gospels. Ho would you complete the sentence ‘the Son of Man came to . . . .’ Perhaps preach the Word . . establish the Kingdom of God… or die on the cross? There are 3 ways the new testament finishes this sentence.
# the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:45
# the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. – Luke 19:10
# the Son of Man has come eating and drinking. – Luke 7:34
That Jesus came to serve, give his life and to save the lost is about purpose. But eating and drinking is about the method. And it was a method that proved to be very successful; eating with other people brought many into God’s kingdom.
Robert Karris, (whose book is the inspiration for this series) says, “In Luke’s gospel Jesus is either going to a meal, is at a meal or coming from a meal.” The Jews of the day would never have believed the Messiah would come eating and drinking… but Jesus was seriously into eating and drinking, so much so that they thought He was a ‘glutton and a drunkard’ (Luke 7:34). God incarnate eats. Jesus would have eaten two meals a day. When he ate with the rich, he might have had white bread, but most of the time he ate the barley bread eaten by the poor, along with cheese, butter, and eggs. Meat and poultry were too expensive to be eaten except on feast days. He may have had fish on the Sabbath. Jesus would have drunk wine, generally mixed with three-parts water. Honey was the primary sweetener, along with figs. Such was the diet of God incarnate.
Today food is big business because people know it is emotive and it is a powerful equaliser and connector. When I sit down and have a meal with you there is an instant mutual inclusiveness as we share together. Food and friendship for Jesus were undeniably intertwined. His excess of ‘food’ and excess of ’grace’ are linked. In the ministry of Jesus, meals were enacted grace, community and mission. I hope I have wet your appetite so as you will pull up a chair, or at least come to the table, and revisit the meals of Jesus and become hungry for the powerful but simple messages he gives while he is ‘eating and drinking’.
PRAYER: Lord God, thank you for your word. Thank you for how much we can learn about you, about ministry and mission from the simple, daily things you did such as eating and drinking with others. May we increase our hospitality as we seek to minister with your love and your grace. In Jesus name, Amen.
(Written by Ange van der Leeuw
SONG: What a Friend We Have in Jesus by Cliff Richard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAlL-ybHQuY