Food, Faith and the Spirit of God

Jesus enjoys an inclusive table, be it with toll collectors, sinners, men, women, hostile religious leaders, and even fallible disciples. He shares his last earthly meal with a disciple who will betray him, with disciples who yearn for positions of power, and with Peter who will deny him…As Jesus gathers these folk around him at table, it is hard not to think of him enjoying himself. [Robert J Karris, Eating Your Way through Luke’s Gospel]

What do you think God had in mind creating humanity in a garden paradise with an abundance of food? Were we created just to ‘work the ground’ or is there something about that pristine, sinless and abundant vision we have missed?

Perhaps the way Jesus lived gives us a clue.

In Luke’s gospel we see that Jesus loved to recline at table and enjoy food and fellowship with others. He was even called a “drunkard and glutton” by those very serious about obeying God and doing what was right; they just didn’t think he was taking things about God seriously enough. In hindsight we can see the stunning irony here; Jesus was God become flesh! How could he be “godless”?

But maybe this is what we have missed: God doesn’t just want to save us to get us into heaven, he saves us to bring us back to his original purpose for us: to live in loving fellowship and friendship with God and with one another. And what better way could there be to celebrate life and friendship than sharing meals together? In fact, when the Prophet Isaiah shared God’s vision of heaven he described it like this:

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.

So no wonder Luke describes the new community redeemed by Jesus, and filled with the Holy Spirit, as one where

they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Luke paints a picture of what God had in mind when he gave us the gift of life. Let’s continue to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit and our homes for the mission of Jesus and invite others to enjoy this new life of grace and love.                          

Nicholas Tuohy

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