From Abandonment to Hope
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” (Matthew 11:19)
Growing up, some of my fondest memories were connected to the dinner table. It was where my family occasionally gathered to eat a meal and swap stories of our day. More etched into my mind are gatherings around the table with our extended family and a few close friends to enjoy a meal crafted with loving care – usually for a holiday or whenever the Dallas Cowboy game was on the tele. The table was where people came together and shared life, where we experienced a sense of belonging. THIS was family.
In the first century, Jesus often enjoyed meals around the table; however, who He included around the table was a bit surprising. Yes, He ate with his disciples, who were quite a diverse and interesting lot (Luke 22,24). He also consistently ate with religious leaders (Luke 7,11). However, quite often it included those outcast from society (Matt. 11:19, 26:6; Luke 5:29). Jesus viewed the table as inclusive – all were invited to dine with Him intimately. They became family.
However, even though He was usually the guest of honor, Jesus “turned the tables” on his dinner guests by declaring that He was among them as one who serves (Luke 22:27). In so doing, the dinner guests become the guests of honor at the table on equal footing. In and through Christ, who forgives our sins, we belong to a global, inclusive community that takes on the very character of our Master as servants. And Jesus sends this redeemed, forgiven community back into the world to form new inclusive communities that bring the religious and outcast together to love God, one another and their neighbors as a family of servants who feast on Christ around the table.
This week, as you consider how Jesus viewed the common table, how might you invite others to share a meal together and feast on Christ? How could your redeemed community create an inclusive environment in which people from diverse backgrounds can freely explore what it means to follow Jesus as equals made in the image of God? How might your redeemed community seek to live as servants of all in the various places you inhabit?