One of mankind’s most basic pastimes is the sharing of a meal together. Meals are a powerful expression of welcome and friendship in every culture. This is why Jesus’ meals are so significant. They are not simply things that happen during the mission. They actually fulfil the mission.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal or coming from a meal. So much so that his enemies accuse him of being, “a glutton and a drunkard” (Luke 7:34). Someone who eats too much and drinks too much.
For those who ate with Jesus, such meals were the scene of a divine encounter. In sharing food and drink with his companions, Jesus was inviting them to share in the grace of God.
The most obvious example of this is the last meal Jesus shared with His Disciples. A meal which, to this day, brings to mind the Lord’s work and purpose—to suffer and die as a lamb slain upon the altar and offered as food among friends.
Understanding this should transform all our meals together. They are an occasion for grace. They are the visible sign of reconciliation and friendship with God and man.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47)
At a meal, something dead is placed upon the table and by it we have life.
This life does not come by looking and nodding at the food. It doesn’t come by preparing the meal. It doesn’t come by being able to name all the ingredients. This life comes to us in the eating.
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24)
In Luke 14, Jesus suggests we shouldn’t invite our friends to our parties. Instead, we should invite, “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.” Why? Because God himself invites, ‘the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame”, to His great banquet. In other words, as with the cross, God comes to us and feeds those who cannot feed themselves.
Our experience of God’s grace should likewise shape our mission to those who also cannot feed themselves.
We are here to break bread and share it as life to the world. We do this by inviting others over to see the life of Christ in us. We do it by sharing the Word of life to those who are lost. We also do it by sharing the Word of life with those who are found—but sometimes faint—and in need of a friend with food.