Around the Table (I)

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : November 2, 2007

image One of dominant themes of the Gospels is table fellowship.  And Luke’s gospel has more meal time scenes than all the others. Throughout Luke, Jesus goes out of his way to break bread with outsiders and marginalized.  This theme comes together at the Last Supper and continues with the story of the road to Emmaus. And then, in Acts, we see the early church gather together for meals and teaching. With Luke, Jesus and his followers are either on the journey or at the Table.

Table Fellowship for the Pharisees was about eating with Good Jews. For Jesus, it was about letting everyone come to the table. The table wasn’t a place to assert position and superiority; it was about hospitality. And that was why Jesus was willing to eat with anyone–from pharisee to prostitute–because he saw the Table as a place where people could encounter the Kingdom. The Table used to be the place for friends only. Enemies, unworthy people, the unclean, and sinners were kept out. But here Jesus changes that.  Now, that those people get the places of honor:

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12-14)

For many Christians in America, hospitality has been outsourced.  We break bread only with those with whom we have affinity.  The stranger is someone unsafe…someone to be feared.  We are willing to go serve THEM where THEY are, but afraid to let THEM into our home.  As much as we are called to be incarnational–to go to people where they are at, we are also called to be hospitable, to invite them into all of the blessings we have to share.  If we are going to follow Jesus, we need to retrieve biblical hospitality. 

When inviting people to our Table, are we more likely to invite people of “good standing” or are we also hospitable to the “poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind”?

for further reading . . .

  • None Found