When I think of Jesus, I most often picture major central events which have shaped theology–such as the temptation in the desert, his transfiguration on the mountain, his betrayal by Judas, his death on the cross and the empty tomb–which is essential to understanding who he is and why we need him. But I think it’s easy to lose sight of the reality that Jesus lived in the mundane much of his life. It is clear from scripture that Jesus spent much of his life in community and it seems much of that time was centered around meals.
We observe that he went to parties, planned big picnics, invited himself over for dinner, and hung out with rebels. There is no mention of him owning a home (after his baptism) and he often lodged with friends and strangers, sharing meals and sharing community. Meals signify more than simply nourishment and Chester’s book describes very succinctly how grace, community, hope, mission, salvation, and promise are encompassed in the meals Jesus attends.
I’m afraid our culture is sadly losing this great grace of sharing meals together in community–Chester notes a 33% decrease in families eating together over the last 3 decades. We are a people obsessed with convenience, trapped in a selfish “have it your way” mindset that prioritizes quantity over quality, taste over nourishment, and comfort over outreach. We are obsessed with reality TV kitchen shows, yet aren’t particularly interested in cooking; we brag about the amount of junk food we’re capable of ingesting, then spend thousands of hours & dollars trying to make up for it. Did you know that “American Christians spend more dieting than on world missions (p.11)?” It is so easy to abuse the time and food God has graciously blessed us with and I felt convicted as I read with difficulty remembering the last time I had my neighbors over for dinner. While Jesus often ate with his friends and family, he always made it a point to go out of his way to eat & spend time with with those less fortunate, the social outcasts, the poor & broken in spirit.
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it: try to share one meal this week in a way that would honor Jesus–maybe do a homemade special dinner with the family centering the conversation on all God has done for you; maybe inviting friends or neighbors over for a cookout; maybe taking a timid co-worker out for lunch. You pick!
Leave a comment below about how you’d like to be more intentional about sharing a meal with Jesus to enter a giveaway (great idea I got from an awesome Christian gal I met at The Gospel Coalition Conference last summer) for a FREE COPY of “A Meal with Jesus” on behalf of Crossway Publishing!