Encounter: Slowly read through and meditate on the words found in Matthew 9:9-13, John 7:34-35, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 in 2 different translations. Try to image these encounters people had with Jesus and begin to think about what Jesus was trying to help us understand.
“Would you like to come over to our house for dinner?” We were newer to the church and still not quite feeling like we fit in and this invitation both made us feel a little nervous (would they like us?) and also like finally we belonged (would we be friends?). There is something about being invited to someone’s home to share a meal that can lighten the load of the weariness of life and bring opportunity for not only friendships to grow, but also our souls to find encouragement and rest in God’s family.
Henri Nouwen writes,
“When we invite friends for a meal, we do much more than offer them food for their bodies. We offer friendship, fellowship, good conversation, intimacy, and closeness. When we say, 'Help yourself… take some more… don’t be shy… have another glass…' we offer our guests not only our food and drink but also ourselves. A spiritual bond grows, and we become food and drink for one another.”
When we watch how Jesus does life, he seems to always gather around the table or the fire and eat with the people He wants to BLESS. The first thing Matthew mentions after accepting the invitation to follow Jesus was, “Jesus went to Matthew’s house and made himself at home.” (Matt 9:10). This not only became true as He ate and extended friendship to the outcasts of society, but it was also true as He made himself at home in their hearts.
When questioned by those who were religious as to why he would dine with such lowlifes, Jesus told them that he wanted to show mercy, healing and hope to those who were sick. This was His purpose. In a similar place, Jesus said I have come to destroy the works of the devil, he showed he was not interested in people keeping a set of rituals and laws but to bring abundant life.
Dave Ferguson writes that”… food is grace from God. When we eat together, we’re doing way more than simply sharing a meal – we’re living on mission, we’re living into our purpose for the life Christ has given us. We show people they are of high value to God and to us. So let’s invite someone to “make themselves at home” and watch how God blesses your neighbor through this simple act of grace. Let’s Eat!
Gathering at the table with you,
Reflect: What is your most memorable meal ever? Can you remember being invited to someone’s home to eat? How did it make you feel? Have you ever shared a meal with someone and suddenly that acquaintance became a friend? In Matthew 9, why do you think Jesus chose to eat with Matthew and how do you think it made Matthew feel?
Encourage: Which of these excuses for not sharing a meal with someone do you relate to most?
· I don’t like to have people in my home?
· I wouldn’t know what to say?
· I just don’t have time?
As you think about the power of eating together, what are some possible barriers that could be removed so you can experience a blessing and be a blessing?
Gather: Who will you share a meal, dessert, or coffee with this week? We eat 21 meals in a week. Who could you invite to 1 or 2 of those meals? You could go on a picnic or to a park. Meet someone at a restaurant or gather around your table. Use the graph below to intentionally put someone on your calendar.