Eating a Meal with Jesus
“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (Luke 7:34)
Why did Jesus come? He came to serve, to give His life as a ransom, to seek and save the lost (Mk 10:45; Lk 19:10).
I think we all get that part. But, how did Jesus come? What method did He use? In Luke 7:34, we are told that Jesus came “eating and drinking”. What was the purpose of Jesus’ seemingly ordinary act of sharing a meal? The Gospel of Luke reveals to us the radical applications of sharing a meal with sinners.
Radical Meals with Jesus
Jesus spent His time on earth eating and drinking – a lot of His time. He gathered people around the table with some grilled fish and a loaf of bread. It was often around the table and over a shared meal that discipleship and evangelism took place. The Gospel of Luke is full of stories of Jesus eating with people:
- In Luke 5, Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi (5:29-32).
- In Luke 7, Jesus is anointed by a woman in the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal (7:36-50).
- In Luke 9, Jesus feeds the five thousand (9:10-36).
- In Luke 10, Jesus eats in the home of Mary and Martha (10:25-42).
- In Luke 14, Jesus shares about the parable of the large banquet in which He urges people to invite the poor rather than their friends (14:7-24).
- In Luke 22, we read the account of the Last Supper (22:14-23).
Even when Jesus is not eating, references to food abound throughout the Gospel. It is safe to say that, throughout Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal.
Jesus is called a “glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” So, how does Jesus show grace in eating meals?
Sharing meals played a vital role in the ministry and mission of Jesus. Meals were a sign of His abounding grace toward sinners. In the ministry of Jesus, meals represented something greater. They were tangible examples of His grace. They were not just symbols; they were application.
He wants me and you to do the same. He wants us to open our homes to sinners, to the poor, to the unclean, to the hurting.
Sharing a meal is more than eating food together. A shared meal represents friendship, community, hospitality, and grace.
Throughout Luke’s Gospel, the message that the first shall be last and the last shall be first is evident. In His short time on earth, Jesus welcomed the marginal and confronted the self-righteous.
What does grace do? Grace turns the world of religious people upside down. By offering salvation, we are all welcomed into God’s feast. A meal between Jesus and Levi proved this to be true (Luke 5:29-32). In Luke 5, Jesus redefined the narrative. Dorothy Patterson describes Jesus’ mission as “a radical break with traditional religious practices. He did not come merely to add to what was already practiced. His ministry involved something that was radically new. This profound difference was seen in the company He kept.” 
Jesus came for those who are unclean and ordinary, and for those who have messed up. He came for people like me and you. The only ones left out of the joyous feast are those who think they don’t need God, the self-righteous. His grace can’t coincide with the self-righteous because He is radically different.
Radical Guest List
Are you a friend of sinners? We have been fed the lie that we need to avoid sinners in order not to be stained by them. I think Jesus did a pretty good job at displaying how to share a meal with sinners and leave unblemished. So how did He do this? How do we reach the lost without participating in their sin?
Like Jesus, we must direct the narrative toward God at all times. We must speak truth while at the same time devoting our time around the table to gospel-centered conversations.
I think we can all agree that eating is not complicated. But, it’s not always easy. This is going to involve inviting people you may not know to invade your space. It may involve you going to your “Nineveh”, a place where you don’t necessarily want to go. However, Jesus didn’t call us to comfort or familiarity. He called us to be a friend to sinners and to share the gospel at whatever cost necessary.
I don’t want to reduce ministry and the church to meals. However, gathering people around our tables and having gospel-centered conversations should be an integral part of our lives.
I know how tempting it is to call your girlfriends or stick with your normal tribe of people. But, we have a huge opportunity to use our homes and our tables to enact His radical grace.
Do you know any sinners who need Jesus? The last part of Luke 7:34 says that Jesus didn’t only eat with those who believed in Him. Jesus hung out with those whom we would often overlook or ignore. He didn’t care about their gender, race, social or economic class. He ate.
Isn’t there something unifying about food? No matter one’s culture or upbringing, whether she is lost or or saved – we all eat.
Find a sinner. Find a woman who needs a meal and share with her that Jesus is the Bread of Life. Find a woman who needs a cup of cold water and teach her that Jesus is our Living Water. Find a woman who is searching for something other than Jesus. Find a woman who is wrapped up in her shame and give her His radical grace.
Who needs to be invited to sit in the empty chair at your table? How are you actively reaching and ministering to the sinners around you?
 Robert Karris, Eating Your Way Through Luke’s Gospel (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2006), 14.
 The Study Bible for Women, Dorothy K. Patterson and Rhonda H. Kelley, eds. (Nashville, Holman Bible Publishers, 2014), 1335.