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Fine Dining With Jesus

Have you ever noticed how often Luke, the Gospel writer, shows us a picture of Jesus “at table” with those he is seeking to save? There are numerous examples of “fine dining with Jesus” in the second gospel:

  • Levi throws a party for Jesus and invites his tax collecting buds (5:29-32)
  • A Pharisee invites Jesus over for dinner and a woman of ill-repute shows up (7:36-50)
  • Jesus feeds 5000 men--plus women and children--with a sack lunch (9:10-17)
  • Martha and Mary show Jesus hospitality (10:38-42)
  • Another Pharisee invites Jesus over (11:37-54)
  • Yet another Pharisee invites Jesus to dine with him and Jesus tells two parables about feasting (14:1-24)
  • Jesus parabolizes about a father who threw a party to celebrate his lost son’s return (15:11-32)
  • Jesus invites himself over to dine with Zacchaeus (19:1-10)
  • Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper while dining with his disciples (22:14-23)
  • The risen Christ reveals himself to distraught disciples over dinner (24:28-35)

Are you seeing a theme here? I don’t mean to over-spiritualize the setting of these accounts in the life of our Savior, but I think we can at least observe that table fellowship was important to our Lord. And if we take the teaching about hospitality found in the New Testament epistles into account (e.g. Rom 12:13; Heb 13:2; 1 Pet 4:9), we can certainly assert that the sharing of a meal can be a catalyst for sharing the gospel.

I have been asked several times since we as a church began hosting Exploring Christianity: why is having a full meal together part of this evangelistic outreach? Why not just have some light refreshments? That is a fair question. Here is my answer: When we invite someone to join us in enjoying a satisfying meal, we are reflecting God’s invitation in the gospel to enjoy fellowship with Christ and be satisfied in him. When we serve another person a delicious meal at no cost, we are reflecting the way our God serves us.

Please don’t misunderstand me, tasty meals don’t save anyone. But when lovingly served out of gratitude for what God has done for us in Christ, they provide a beautiful context that adorns Jesus’ gospel. We have seen this each time we offer EC. Those who attend are blown away by the kindness they experience at New Covenant, which makes for an ideal context to talk to them about the kindness of a God who would send his Son to die for those who don’t deserve his favor.

As I listened to Pastor Sunday preach this past Sunday morning about Jesus carrying out his mission “to seek and save the lost” by going to Zacchaeus’ house to dine with him, I couldn’t help but think about the opportunity we have to reflect our Seeking Savior through EC (listen to sermon online if you missed it). Those people in our lives who are lost or confused are not the enemy. They are the objects of God’s love. They are the intended recipients of the free offer of the gospel. They are men and women for whom we designed Exploring Christianity.

EC is for them. It is also for you. When you invite someone to EC, remember to let them know you will attend with them. And remember to let them know that you are only asking if they would be willing to come to the Preview Dinner at 6:30 p.m. on January 30. They can decide if they want to come to the rest of the course when we invite them that night.

EC is also for you if you are Christian who feels like you could benefit from a refresher course on the basics of Christianity and would like to have freedom to ask questions in a non-threatening environment or if you are a Christian who would like to grow in your ability to have evangelistic conversations.

Finally, EC is for everyone at New Covenant who would like to play a part in the evangelistic process by demonstrating the welcome of the gospel by showing hospitality. This could be as simple as providing one of the food items for one of the five meals, or it could be by serving the a meal and a getting a first hand look at EC.

If you have known the joy of being welcomed by a Savior who gladly ate and drank with sinners like us (Luke 5:30), I encourage you to show the same kind of welcome by being part of Exploring Christianity this year. You can sign up to attend or serve by contacting the church office or signing up at the EC booth in church foyer.

Sought and found by God’s grace,

Pastor Dave DeHaan