There’s nothing I enjoy more than gathering around the table with my family. There’s something special about feeding them food they enjoy. It’s a time to connect, catch up, discuss topics of the day, laugh, and simply enjoy each other’s company. Have you ever noticed in the Bible that eating at Jesus’ table was a way for Him to do the same thing? He connected with people on a human level and fed them amazing spiritual food.
Last week we looked at the story of Jesus coming to the home of Mary and Martha, and it started me thinking about all the times we see Jesus sitting around a table, eating, teaching and enjoying His guest’s company.
There are many stories of Jesus dining with guests and offering them deep nourishment. I will pare it down to a few instances, but it would make a great topical study!
Jesus at the Table in Matthew’s House
The story of Jesus calling Matthew out of his tax collector’s booth to follow him immediately continues with Jesus having dinner at Matthew’s house. (Matthew 9:9-13) It tells us that “many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with Him and His disciples.
Matthew’s friends and social group were people like himself- as it is for most people. So, it seems natural he would invite fellow tax collectors to have dinner and meet Jesus.
The “sinners” in this instance (aren’t we all?) probably meant a person not adhering to the strict rules of the Pharisees. They also may have been living an immoral lifestyle, a cheating tax collector or anyone with a sketchy reputation.
Matthew left behind his material fortune for a fresh life of forgiveness and life with Jesus. He immediately told his friends and invited them to hear what Jesus’ words of life.
Lesson #1- Matthew teaches us a great lesson- we don’t have to be “spiritually mature” or have a degree in theology to share our faith!
What a beautiful picture of the inclusiveness of Jesus and the heart of God. He loved each one who came to the table that night and shared the transformative power of His message.
Lesson #2– Regardless of your reputation or past behavior, Jesus loves you and wants you to come sit at His table.
Jesus at the Table of the Last Supper
Jesus’ last meal with His inner circle of disciples is full of meaning. He didn’t host it for himself as a “going away” party; He still had so many things to teach his beloved disciples and so little time left in His earthly ministry.
Jesus had eaten many meals with his precious disciples. This last one was important and spoke of even greater banquets to come!
Even though He knew His disciples would betray, disown, and desert Him, He rose from the table to wash their feet. This was a job for the lowliest slave, and Jesus took it upon Himself. What a beautiful example of servant-hood He gave us.
Lesson # 3– If you knew it was your last day on earth, would washing other’s feet be your activity of choice?
Lesson # 4- When you come to His table, the King of Heaven serves you.
In this last Passover meal, Jesus tells his disciples that the bread and wine would now symbolize His body and blood. He spoke of His new covenant, His own blood shed for forgiveness of sins.
Every time we celebrate communion, it’s as if we are spiritually at the table with Jesus. He wants us to remember why He sacrificed Himself- He values each one of us with a love we cannot fathom.
Lesson # 5- Each time you come to Jesus’ holy communion table, make it personal. Be inspired and awed by His love and sacrifice for you.
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Jesus at the Table of Restoration
John 21 records a tender and restorative reunion between the resurrected Jesus and Peter.
The disciples had spent all night fishing the Sea of Galilee and had come up empty. Early in the morning, Jesus appeared on shore and called out to them.
Impulsive Peter jumps out of the boat, fully clothed, and swims/runs about 100 yards to meet Jesus. As he emerges from the water, he sees and smells that Jesus has prepared a breakfast meal for them.
The word that John uses to describe this breakfast charcoal fire is found in only one other place in Scripture- the fire that Peter used to warm himself as he vehemently denied knowing Jesus three times.
Did Peter have a flashback of his denial at this breakfast table? No matter, Jesus still invites Peter to “come and have breakfast.” v12.
He then asks Peter 3 times if he loves him.
The three questions Jesus asked contrast with Peter’s 3 denials. While it hurt Peter’s feelings, it gave him the gift of restoration and renewal for his important commission. Jesus wanted Peter to know he was forgiven, loved, and had work for him to do.
Lesson #6- We can all find strengthened connections and a sense of belonging and restoration at Jesus’ table. Come!
Jesus’ Table of Plenty
We will never go hungry or thirsty at Jesus’ table. Scripture shows us many instances of His abundant care and feeding.
Wedding in Cana
At the wedding in Cana, Jesus instructs the servers to fill the water jars to the brim. He turns the water into an excellent wine, saving the family great embarrassment.
To run out of wine would break the unwritten law of hospitality. This first miracle of Jesus is about His abundant goodness to us and the hospitality of God.
Lesson #7- He fills us to the brim with His excellent, absolute best.
Feeds the 5000
Jesus took 5 small barley loaves, and two small fish and made it feed the whole crowd-over 5000 people (with leftovers!) Nothing is impossible at Jesus’ table of plenty!
This story is also a beautiful example of what we would call “food-related outreach”! Before He physically fed the crowd, He taught them truth, healed the sick, and gave them hope and confidence through His love and care for them.
Lesson #8- He continues to feed us today in the same way- in abundance and with truth, hope, and love.
Spiritual Food at Jesus’ Table
Jesus was just beginning His ministry when He revealed Himself to the Samaritan woman at the well. He had sent His disciples into town to buy food while He rested in the well’s shade.
He spoke with this poor, outcast woman and helped her understand who He was. She ran with excitement back into town to spread the word that the Messiah had come! The confused disciples returned just then and urged Him to have something to eat.
“But He said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’” John 4:32.
Still confused, the disciples asked each other if someone else brought him food??
Jesus did His best to explain the great meal that had filled Him to the brim. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” v34.
The “food” Jesus was describing was the spiritual nourishment He had received when the Samaritan woman came to understand who He was and accepted His offer of eternal life.
Perhaps Jesus saw her response as just the beginning of the millions who would follow in her footsteps and enter the kingdom of God. Doing His Father’s work had filled and satisfied Him in a way that physical food could not.
I had never thought of Jesus’ humanity in this way. I assumed He knew what her response would be. (And maybe He did…) But to read His emotional response brought tears to my eyes.♥
Lesson #9- What spiritual nourishment are you taking in? Bible study, prayer, and doing His will bring you more satisfaction than any food you eat!
Living Water and Bread of Life
When Jesus claimed to have this living water that would forever quench her thirst, He was claiming to be the Messiah. To believe in Him meant eternal life for her.
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37-38.
Jesus also boldly declared, “I am the bread of life.” John 6:35.
Lesson #10- When we believe in Him, we never need to be spiritually thirsty or hungry. Jesus Himself is all we truly need.
How “filling” it would be if we spent sometime in personal reflection from these 10 lessons from Jesus’ table.
We eat bread and drink water to satisfy our physical thirst and hunger. But at Jesus’ table, He gives us spiritual food and living water.
As God’s people, it is just as essential that we partake of these two things each day as it is for physical food and water. Jesus nourishes our spiritual life every time we spend time with Him.
All are welcome at Jesus’ table. He calls to each of us to come and dine with Him. He wants to fill us to the brim and feast on who He is.
Jesus wants to restore and strengthen us. He has saved each of us a seat at the Communion table to reflect with thankfulness on His sacrifice.
He promises permanent satisfaction, inner peace, and an abundant life that overflows into those around us. What an eternally satisfying meal!!
Come to the table!
Related Post- How Do You Feed Your Spiritual Hunger?
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
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