I have really enjoyed thinking about the times that Jesus spends at table. It is so much more than learning from Jesus, it is a reminder of how Jesus was also human and needed to share in fellowship and food. I have also heard it said that Jesus often found trouble when he was at table, never escaping from teaching others through the ‘trouble’ they faced.
Wedding at Cana John 2: 1-11
Early in John’s account of the gospel, chapter 2, Jesus attends the wedding at Cana. How joyful that he performs his first miracle at a celebration! Truly we too should remember to relax and celebrate. Even more, Jesus fills six large jars and it is of better quality than the original wedding wine. Given that the jars were, apparently, of about 25 gallons each and there were six of them, that makes 150 gallons. Frankly that doesn’t help me much to picture how much that is. But when I think that one gallon will fill 5 bottles of wine (750ml), then I begin to understand. This would have been 750 bottles of wine, of very high quality. You see, that is the point here, isn’t it? Jesus shows God’s provision at this feast. That provision is abundant and of quality. Life, love, work, blessings, joy, peace, all of these and more, He gives without measure and of the highest quality.
Feast at Levi’s House Luke 5: 27-32
In Luke 5, we find another occasion where there is a large feast, this one is given by Levi. Levi has just become one of the disciples and invites Jesus and a multitude to his house. Levi’s expression of joy and desire to immediately share and tell others that he is with Jesus is inspiring. We don’t know how many came, but it must have drawn many since the pharisees have something to say about it. They can’t understand why a teacher would garner such support when he eats with tax collectors and sinners; here is an example of ‘trouble’ at table. I find it meaningful that Jesus is obviously approachable and inclusive. His lack of judging the group is in stark contrast to the pharisees. I have often wondered who exactly would fit under the category of ‘sinner’ to the pharisees as well. The only clear answer we would have is those who are known to be sinful, the Greek definition says ‘stained with vice and crimes.’ But, hidden sin eats away inside as much as the visible. Lies and deceit, shame, fear, and immorality may be hidden from sight, but Jesus came to set us free from that as well. Certainly by including those who visibly sin, he speaks to us of the hidden as well. All and any can come to him, seeking freedom and finding it. The past, when given to Him, is wiped clean. His acceptance of sinners and disciples together powerfully demonstrates His love.
Eating at Martha and Mary’s House Luke 10: 38-42
Isn’t it interesting that the story is set at Mary and Martha’s house? I would have thought for the time period, that it would have been Lazarus’s house, but it wasn’t. It seems to be Martha’s house. I’ll leave that for another discussion.
In Luke 10, we are given only a glimpse of the occasion, perhaps a usual evening among friends. Likely, it was a decent group of people as Martha was hurrying about getting dinner and sleeping arrangements settled. Mary was sitting in adoration at Jesus’s feet. The marked difference between the two and our cultural bias leads me to consider that Mary is bit lazy or dreamy, while Martha is a take-charge doer. That may not be true at all though. Also, we need both types, I think: we have to carry out like Martha, but we also have to understand the will and teachings of Christ, finding the vision He imparts like Mary. Perhaps Mary has ‘chosen the better’ because she demonstrates that God is Lord and He will ensure that everything is done in a timely manner and as completely and competently as required. Martha shows she is not at peace in this story – though I could not guess about what exactly: desire to impress visitors, concern that things would not be done in time or well, improper mingling of women and men, her jealousy that Mary got to spend time with Jesus, her distrust of the servants, or other things. Mary is utterly unconcerned with this though and trusts simply that things are well when in the presence of Jesus. This same peace that Mary exudes and that transcends understanding is available to us all. I am not sure that it comes without effort and ‘choice’, as it is called here. We must choose to put aside our thoughts, concerns, issues, etc. and focus on Jesus. We must choose to believe that all will be well, all is well, despite it being stressful or seemingly falling apart. This is simple truth in that He is guarding over us, and our situations, always. So, this meal seems to be a lesson of focusing on Him and finding peace in Him and all else will fall into place. It is our choice to prioritize our actions and thoughts, though.
The richness of Jesus’s character shown in just three stories astounds me, how much more there is to seek. His provision is immeasurable and excellent; he wants all to come to Him and gives peace to any who seek it. I’m happy to eat with Jesus any day, knowing I receive all this.