The act of sharing a meal is a time to commune with people. It is a powerful expression of welcoming, friendship and acceptance in every culture around the world.
Jesus used sharing a meal to break down cultural barriers and to extend grace. We see Jesus in the book of Luke either on his way to a meal, attending a meal, or coming from a meal. It wasn’t the act of eating that shook up the cultural balance of their time but, who he was sharing his meal with.
Sharing a meal was exactly that. A bit different than how you eat a meal today. The food was set out in communal bowls and platters. People reached out with their hands and grabbed their share of food. Food left on the platters and bowls for the next person to take their portion was touched by others at the table. This form of eating was very intimate. Those at the table were sharing themselves, and sustaining their being with the same food. So, in a sense, it was a time of oneness with everyone. They all touched and ate off the same food. There was no separation of person. It was a communal experience.
The Pharisee’s would never have shared a meal with anyone they concluded less than their social or religious station. They would never lower themselves to oneness with those they deemed as social outcasts or lower than their own social standing.
Jesus reached out to share a moment of oneness with social outcasts. These were the downtrodden, law breakers, Gentiles and sinners of every kind. Some of these also were Jewish tax collectors.
Jewish tax collectors were the lowest of the low in the Jewish culture. Tax collectors were Jews that aligned themselves to Rome and taxed the Jewish people for just about everything. There was even a tax for being alive. The tax collectors gave to Rome what was due to Rome but always collected far more from their people and that was how they were paid. Since the tax collectors aligned themselves to Rome than they were against God according to Jewish society and shunned and looked down upon.
The apostle Matthew was a tax collector. He was exceptionally good at his job and was very wealthy. He gave all of it up. Think about this, he gave up a ton of money and to me is evidence that money does not buy contentment or happiness. Matthew simply walked away from it all and followed Jesus.
Soon after one evening Matthew held a big dinner feast and invited his only friends – other tax collectors to join him, so they too could meet and spend time with Jesus. You can read this in Mark chapter 2.
Jesus stats that he did not come to call the righteous but sinners. Jesus actively reaching the lost. He ate with sinners, social outcasts, Gentiles, & tax collectors because they needed him. What a beautiful sentiment from heaven above. Think about this, God sat down with these people who desperately needed Him. They needed to feel welcomed and accepted. Jesus reaching out and touching, spending time and eating with those who needed him most is a beautiful expression of God extending love and mercy. This is Grace in action.
In Luke 5:31 we find Jesus defending his act of entering the homes of sinners and eating with them. We read: Jesus answered and said to them (them being the Pharisees), “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick”. Praise God that he makes house calls!
You may not be a social outcast. You may not be shunned by the society in which you live but, we all are sinners.
Would you feel welcomed and accepted if Jesus sat down with you to share a meal?
Jesus knows you inside and out. He knows your past, present and future. Your thoughts, and motivations of your heart. Yes, because of all of those things he extends an invitation. Sit down and commune in Oneness. Extend beyond your comfort zone and eat at His table regularly. The table of forgiveness, acceptance, spiritual nourishment. For you are welcomed a true friend even adopted family member. This is His grace in action.
Oneness with Jesus is not about what you have done in his name. It’s not about being a law abiding citizen or sitting in a church pew on Sunday. Your belief in Him makes you worthy. That’s it.
Let us all sit down at His table and feed. Touching the same food communing together as a community in the rich nourishment of Jesus Christ. For the more we commune with Him the more Oneness with Christ we exude. Now, pass the potato’s please.