Jesus spent a lot of His time on earth eating and drinking. For Jesus, it was important to gather people around the table and at that table both discipleship and evangelism took place. We see countless examples of Jesus eating with people throughout the Bible, particularly in the Gospel of Luke. For example, in Luke 5, Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at home. In Luke 7, Jesus is anointed by a woman in the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal. Then, in Luke 9, we see Jesus feeding the five thousand. There are also countless references to food throughout the Gospel, even when Jesus is not eating. During the last supper, Jesus uses the bread and wine, undertaking one of the most significant moments of His entire ministry. The Gospel of Luke tells us, Jesus “Took break, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” The Lord’s Supper is understood as the central act of Christian worship for 2,000 years. The meals Jesus shared with others were not only significant, but also life-changing. Here are five lessons we can learn from the meals Jesus shared.
The Hungry Should Be Fed
One big lesson we can learn from the meals Jesus shared is that it’s important to feed the poor. The only miracle we see repeated in all four Gospels is the feeding of 5,000 – an incredible example of Jesus feeding the hungry. John 6 shares Jesus’ teaching of salvation the day He performed the miracle. The people had been hungry, so He fed them; however, Jesus teaches that humanity’s greater need is for spiritual food. Jesus explains, “’Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.’ Then [the crowd] asked Him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’” (John 6:27-29). In verse 35, Jesus says that He is the Bread of Life. He points the crowd to Himself, saying that physical food will only satisfy temporarily but salvation through Him is forever. We see through Jesus example of feeding others that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Food is a Gift From God
We know that food is a necessity. We need food to fuel our bodies. Jesus also teaches us that food is a gift from God. In fact, it is the first gift. Genesis 9:3 says, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” In Matthew 5:6 Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” What is incredible about food is the fact that it is gift like manna, meant to remind us of our dependence on God and our dependence on each other (Exodus 16). When we receive food, we bear witness to God’s incredible grace.
Eating Together Connects Us
During Jesus’ ministry on earth, everything was centered around meals. There was the wedding at Cana, a dinner with the reviled Zaccheus and the Last Supper. Jesus was even criticized for eating with the tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 12:16). Eating together is one of the most important and practical means for overcoming any barrier that separates us. It is also an incredible way to share and fellowship. Whether you are bringing one person to your table or many, you can honor the gifts God has given you and love people the way Jesus loves them. It doesn’t matter if the meals are fancy, home-cooked or take-out. What matters is that they involve other people and that they connect us.
Eating is an Act of Stewardship
When we hear the term “stewardship” we often think of church budgets and building programs, but the truth is biblical stewardship is much greater than this. Biblical stewardship is one of the primary ways God calls us to live our life. Good food depends on good care of the garden. When we do this, we are in a better position to share properly with others. God is not only the ultimate Gardener but also the ultimate Farmer. One of our most fundamental tasks is making sure that whatever we do, our actions keep the garden healthy and whole (Genesis 2:15).
There is Power in Sharing a Meal
The act of eating meals plays a significant role in the gospels. It’s important to note that Jesus shared meals with all sorts of people. There are even scholars who refer to this trend as Jesus “eating His way through the gospels.” When Jesus shared meals with people, it gave him the opportunity to enter the lives of the people with whom He was eating. Many of the meals that Jesus is recorded eating in the gospels are also accompanied by times of teaching, healing or other miraculous work. In short, we see that there is power in the time that we share meals with others. We too have the power to use our eating time to connect and share with those around us.
We have the opportunity to not only feed the needy, but share in our eating with others. We live in a needy world and we should do everything we can to connect with others, especially those who are hungry and suffering. Galatians 6:10 says, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Sharing is not only our priority, but also our ministry.