There are three ways that the New Testament completes the sentence,
“The Son of Man came…”
“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45);
“The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10);
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking…” (Luke 7:34).
The first two are statements of purpose. Why did Jesus come? He came to serve, to give his life as a ransom and to seek and save the lost. The third is a statement of method. How did Jesus come? He came eating and drinking.Jesus spent his time eating and drinking--a lot of his time. His mission strategy was primarily a long meal, stretching into the evening. He crafted relationships and shared himself and his message around a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine.
Luke’s Gospel is full of stories of Jesus eating with people.
In Luke 5 Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi.
In Luke 7 Jesus is anointed at the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal.
In Luke 9 Jesus feeds the five thousand.
In Luke 10 Jesus eats at the home of Mary and Martha.
In Luke 11 Jesus condemns the Pharisees and teachers of the law at a meal.
In Luke 14 Jesus is at a meal when he urges people to invite the poor to their meals rather than their friends.
In Luke 19 Jesus invites himself to dinner with Zaccheus
.In Luke 22 we have the account of the Last Supper.
In Luke 24 the risen Jesus has a meal with two disciples in Emmaus and later eats fish with the disciples in Jerusalem.
Commentator Robert Karris concludes: “In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal.”
Jesus is called “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” This is why eating and drinking were so important to the mission of Jesus: they were a sign of his friendship with tax collectors and sinners. His “excess” of food and “excess” of grace are linked. Meals with Jesus were enacted grace, community and mission – they represented something bigger. They were glimpses of a new world, a new kingdom and new way of perceiving who was to be loved and included. But meals with Jesus are not just symbolic – food is stuff - it’s not just ideas or theories. You put it in your mouth, taste it, and eat it. And meals are more than food. They are social occasions that represent friendship, community and welcome.
The meals of Jesus are a window into his message of grace and the way it defines his community and its mission. What it would look like for us to do the same? Maybe hospitality and eating together are still the best ways to influence others for God’s Kingdom? What if we got more intentional about our tables?
Long before the church had pulpits and baptisteries, she had kitchens and dinner tables. Even a casual reading of the New Testament unveils the house as the primary tool of the church. Hospitality opens the door to uncommon community. It's no accident that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin word, for they both lead to the same result: healing.
When you open your door to someone, you are sending this message: "You matter to me and to God." You may think you are saying, "Come over for a visit." But what your guest hears is, "I'm worth the effort."
This summer we will study the meals of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. We will find our place at His table and consider together the power of an open table and an welcoming heart!