Reading the introduction to Tim Chester’s excellent book A meal with Jesus was one of those moments where a little insight struck me with great force. It’s a lesson I’ve used many times since as I’ve sought to explain why food is so important in the life of Grace Church.
There are three ways in which the New Testament completes the sentence, ‘The Son of Man came…’ ‘The Son of Man came note 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 to save the lost’ (Luke 19:10); ‘The Son of Man has come eating and drinking…(Luke 7:34).
The first two are statements of purpose. Why did Jesus come? He came to serve, to give his life as a ransom, to seek and to save the lost. The third is a statement of method. How did Jesus come? He came eating and drinking.
Tim Chester, A meal with Jesus, p12
There are three main groups of people with whom Jesus ate meals: Pharisees, his disciples, and sinners. In fact he ate with the last group so much that the first group accused him of being a drunkard and a glutton (Luke 7:34).
Meals feature prominently in Jesus’ miracles and teachings – he cooks breakfast, he feeds the crowds and he gives us a meal to remember his covenant to us. One day he promises we will eat together in the presence of His Father.
Food and eating with people, taking time to both offer and receive hospitality is a way we can do what Jesus, draw near to those who oppose you, disciple those who follow you and befriend those who are around you.