Luke 5: 27-32
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but there is a lot of eating and drinking that goes on in scripture. The Bible is full of stories of meals, celebrations and parties where food and drink play a key role. We see this in Genesis where Abraham and Sarah entertain three angelic visitors. We see it again in Revelation where the Lord stands at the door knocking, waiting to be invited in so that He can dine with you. We see it in the gospels where one of the first things Jesus does in John’s gospel is attend a wedding. It happens again today where Jesus in invited to a meal at the home of Levi, whom we call Matthew.
Stripped of everything else, scripture would still be incredibly rich if all we had were stories about food. Leave out the healings and miracles, the poetry and the prophecy, the Bible would still be full of good news if all we had were stories about food and fellowship. Because like the healings and miracles, the poetry and the prophecy, stories of food and fellowship point beyond themselves. They point to a different reality, because they point not just to the meal we read about, but the meal for which we all long: the banquet promised to all God’s people in heaven.
So meals in scripture, like this meal we celebrate at the Eucharist, are glimpses, not of ancient eating customs but of the promise and reality of heaven where none will be left out, where none will be left hungry, where none will be left alone.
We get a glimpse of this today not just in the gospel but in this circle. Luke makes a point of telling us that Jesus eats with the vilest of the vile: tax collectors, the despised collaborators of Roman imperialism. In fact Luke hammers this point in, by saying it twice. It would seem that Jesus was not fussy about who he ate with. He was prepared to eat with anyone because everyone is worthy of God’s love.
That’s the good news we discover in the stories of food and fellowship that we find in the pages of scripture. Everyone is worthy of God’s love. That’s the good news we discover again today as we gather around this Table for this Meal. Everyone is worthy of God’s love. And that’s the good news we will celebrate eternally when we are all gathered around the heavenly banqueting table. Everyone is worthy of God’s love.
I don’t know about you, but that’s something I constantly need to be reminded of. That just as God will welcome me to that heavenly banquet, so will God welcome those who I don’t think should be there, because everyone, yes everyone, even the vilest of the vile, is worthy of God’s love. We see it today lived out, not just in the pages of scripture where Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners, but we see it too in this circle as Jesus sits down to dine with us, because everyone is worthy of God’s love: you and me, the person next to you, and the person across from you, whom you may never have seen before. No matter who you are, where you are from, or what you have done, we are all worthy of God’s love.
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