Did you know that 80 percent of the gospel accounts are made up of Jesus either going to or coming from a meal? Many of his miracles surrounded food, his ministry happened around the table, and his first miracle was turning water into wine.
I don't know about you, but it sounds to me like Jesus may have been a bit of a foodie.
I was taking communion this weekend and was struck by the significance of the last supper. Jesus used bread and wine as the staples of his last evening with his disciples. He used it to symbolize the sacrifice he was about to make. He linked his death and resurrection, the gospel of our salvation, to something we eat, to something tangible—to bread and wine.
I love the way Leonard Sweet talks about Jesus and food: "The gospel has been summarized as 'Jesus ate good food with bad people.'"
Eating was a major part of Jesus' life and ministry, and it should be in ours too.
Here are four things Jesus taught us by how he ate:
1. No one is "beneath us." In Jesus' time, maybe even more than now, there were certain people you just weren't supposed to talk to. Jesus' interaction with the woman at the well is a perfect example. She was a sinner, a woman, and a Samaritan—all things that made her a social pariah for a Jewish man like Jesus.
But Jesus didn't care what people thought of his choice of friends.
There wasn't a requirement for who could eat with him, an entrance exam or a pedigree necessary for an invitation to his table. Jesus ate with everyone. No one was beneath him.
And the same should be true for us.
2. The table is a great place for ministry. In ministry, our goal is to make connections. The best ministry happens when a relationship is formed and when people are able to come together to discuss their lives.
The table provides this better than any other place because it facilitates this kind of connection. A meal is a time removed from the busyness of life, reserved for conversation and nourishment—both physical and relational.
Jesus spent so much time eating with people because he knew the kind of connection that happens when people gather together over a meal.
The table should not be overlooked when it comes to ministry. If you want to connect with someone, or get to know someone, ask yourself: What would Jesus do? Invite them over for dinner.
3. Sinners wanted to eat with Jesus. Jesus ate with sinners, we know that, but the thing we fail to realize is how much the sinners wanted to eat with Jesus. How do you relate to people outside the faith? Are you loving them or are you converting them? There's a difference. Do they feel important when they're around you? Or like they're a project?
Often we make it our goal to love people outside the faith, but our "love" comes off as judgmental and full of agenda. There's a great lesson to the fact that sinners wanted to be close to Jesus. They loved Him because He loved them. And it's only through genuine love and relationship that life-change can happen.
4. Jesus sees people, not status or lifestyle. Jesus ate with people of all different backgrounds, but I bet if you asked Him, He wouldn't have seen it that way. Jesus didn't see people classified into where they were from, what they believed, or how they lived their lives. He saw them for who they were, what was inside of them, and that's how we should work to see people too.
With more than a dozen years of local-church ministry, Justin Lathrop has spent the last several years starting businesses and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the Kingdom. He is the founder of Helpstaff.me (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership and MinistryCoach.tv, all while staying involved in the local church.
For the original article, visit justinlathrop.com.
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