“When [Jesus] was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognised Him…”
In Eugene Peterson’s book Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in Everyday Life, he notes a phenomenon that has taken over our life: “The centrality of the meal in our lives today is greatly diminished. We still eat, of course, but the world of the meal has disintegrated. The exponential rise of fast-food restaurants means there is little leisure time for conversation. The vast explosion of restaurants means there is far less food preparation that takes place in the home. The invasion of the television set to a place at the head of the table at family meals virtually eliminates personal relationships and conversations….All this and more means that the meal is no longer easily accessible or natural as the setting in which to encounter the risen Christ.”
Peterson’s emphasis on the centrality of the meal should not be taken lightly. Scripture records Jesus not only eating and drinking with disciples and friends but also with tax collectors and sinners. He took these opportunities to share and teach about the kingdom of God. Even after Jesus’s resurrection, Luke 24:13-35 tells of Jesus joining two men on the road to Emmaus. These men were rehearsing the tragic event of Jesus’s death and Jesus engaged with them in conversation about what happened at the crucifixion in the context of the entire Old Testament. When they got to their destination, these men invited Jesus to join them. During the meal, when Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them, these men realized they were with Jesus. There was a revelation of the person of Jesus that happened in the context of a meal.
A few days later, seven of the disciples were fishing all night but could not catch anything. Then Jesus told them to throw their nets to the right side. At first, the disciples did not realize it was Jesus talking to them from the shore, but when they caught a large number of fish, they knew it was Him. When they got to the shore, Jesus had a fire burning with breakfast for the disciples. It was during this meal that Simon Peter was personally restored to ministry by Jesus, forgiven three times for the three times that he had denied Jesus. Restoration to ministry, forgiveness, a deeper understanding of Jesus and experiencing Him as a miracle worker all happened in the context of a meal.
Yet, the emphasis is not on the meal. The focus is on the person that the meal is being shared with. In both cases, Jesus was present and He brought transformation. When we share a meal with others, may we seize the opportunity to have an encounter with the risen Lord.
Lord Jesus, I ask that You please help me seize the opportunity during a shared meal to make it about You. Thank You, Lord.