Jesus loved a good time and good food. His mission strategy was a long meal, stretching into the evening. He did evangelism and discipleship around a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is usually going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal. He received flack from this at the hands of the Pharisees, who snidely remarked that “the disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink” (Luke 5:33).
Eating and drinking were so important to the mission of Jesus because they were a sign of his friendship with tax collectors, sinners, and others scorned by others. His “excess” of food and “excess” of grace are linked. In the ministry of Jesus, meals were enacted grace, community, and mission.
Meals are an effective way for Christians to emulate a part of Jesus’ ministry. It doesn’t take the profound knowledge of apologetics or hermeneutics to be a witness. If we share a meal three or four times a week and have a passion for Jesus, then we will be building up the Christian community and reaching out in mission. Luke describes Jesus’s mission strategy: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking.” In our food-centered culture, it sounds like an applicable act we can follow.
Excerpts modified from A Meal with Jesus.