Jesus came eating and drinking and people thought that perhaps He had a demon. He ate with tax collectors and some considered Him to be unclean. He feasted with fishermen, and some thought Him to be an arrogant and uneducated Galillean hack.
As God had been with Adam in the garden, so Jesus was with His Disciples. He had not come to take the children’s bread. He had not come, like the pagan gods, demanding to be fed. He came to spread a table and feast with friends in order to gladden the heart.
And He taught His disciples to do the same. He taught His disciples to spread a table for the gladness of others. This was both literal and figurative.
Figuratively, at this table, Jesus says, our conversation is the menu.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6)
Our table talk is to be like His table talk, “seasoned with salt.” Our words are to be like His words, “sweeter than honey.” We are to set before people what Jesus set before the people – words of life and joy spoken by the bread of life.
Being ‘words of life’, our menu is very portable. We are able to spread the table of the Lord with all of its promises in a moment. Candles and fine china are optional. What people are hungry for are words. Words that give hope. Words that give life.
The Pharisees could not see this. For the Pharisees, words were used to darken counsel without knowledge (Job 38:2). For the philosophers of the age, words were used to obscure the truth and hide it away.
And so, when Jesus came the people were starving. They sought Jesus because He spoke as one with authority and not like the Pharisees.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
As Jesus’ disciples, we are to go about spreading these words of life with one another and with our neighbour.
This should be seen for what it is: A wonderful privilege. To fill the hungry with good things. To be oil and wine to those in pain. To stop for the weak, the frail and the heavy-laden as we travel the road to Jericho (Luke 10:30).
To speak as dying men to dying men. To speak life-giving words that gladden the heart.
These are the only words that matter in our conversations with each other. These are the conversations that will be remembered by our neighbour. All other words turn out to be little more than wind whistling through a drain pipe.
But these words are life to the world and you are called to share them with others.
For this to happen, you must be the kind of disciple who turns up daily to the table of the Lord to be fed yourself.
The Psalms, Proverbs and sayings of Jesus are a great place to start. Know these words. Take them to heart as medicine for your own soul. Memorise these words and lay the table with them so that others may be fed.
Let them sink deep into your own soul and let them shape your appetites. Let them govern your temperament and direct your path so that you might shed light under the feet of those around you and gladden the heart of man.