Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
“ Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2
When I wrote the book, Come for Supper? the memoirs of a reluctant hostess, it was out of an epiphany that there was so much more to the supper table than just feeding my body. That there is a soul thing purposefully happening at the same time, which grows out of the conversation and the fellowship that takes place around a meal. This physical/spiritual awareness has opened my eyes to the relationship God had with Adam and Eve in the garden, with His children in the wilderness and the ancient feasts, with His priests in the practices of the tabernacle, and with the numerous personalities who participated in the many many many hospitable acts written of in the Old Testament. Continuing through the earthly ministry of Jesus, the Spirit was present in the breaking of the loaves and fishes, the cup and the bread of the Last Supper, the communion, the reconciliation of Peter over breakfast by the sea, and finally, at long last, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, which is yet to come. From the very beginning, in the garden, to the very end of the book, in the New Jerusalem, Jehovah tseva’ot has been preparing a table for His creation and inviting us to sup. God’s incredible hospitality is an underlying theme of His entire book.
This beautiful mystery of the wine and the bread in the word of God has unraveled to me what a precious gift it is to purposely gather around a table. When done right (with the Lord as our guest of honor), it is an activity, like few others, that truly weaves our hearts and minds and souls together in a far-reaching way. Our daily bread, food and conversation, are the elements that knit God’s heart with ours, and ours with each others for eternity.
Even more excellent, if that were possible, than sharing a meal with the ones we love, is the blessing that comes back to us when we tie on that hospitality apron for people we don’t know.
I think of the meals I’ve shared with strangers and how I was uncomfortable at first, but in so many cases, we all ended up being good friends afterwards. The first instance that pops into my mind is the lady that led me to Jesus. Shortly afterwards she had my husband and me over for supper, and I will never forget the charity I felt in my heart from her. She was so genuine, and happy, and had lots of terribly interesting stories. I will never forget her, or her sweet, loving, humble generosity, or the meal that she made (linguini with clam sauce).
When my husband and I started attending church together we were invited to dinner by one of the families. Their courage to invite us to their home made us feel like part of that church family. They were fun, and relaxing, and it was inspirational to see this godly family in action. We got to know them in a way we never would have just shaking their hands as we entered the church, or sitting next to them in the pews. And the meal they served is a staple in my repertoire to this day (Haystacks).
I think of my days working in the school district, and my job as a lunchroom monitor. It was the highlight of my day to both serve the students a meal, and walk around and visit with them as they ate it. I got to know them in a way I could never have gotten to know them in the classroom, and God knit each one of them into my heart forever by that experience. I saw their sense of humor, their fears, their likes and dislikes, their social graces, their charity, their kindness, their shyness, and in many instances their sincere and childlike faith. They were all so precious.
And when we moved to Texas and I didn’t know but a couple of people, those two friends and I made it a weekly plan to go to lunch after Bible Study. As each of us met people, we’d bring them along to our lunch dates, and our circles of friends grew and our relationships deepened. I met my neighbors by being invited to coffee at one of their houses one afternoon, and lasting friendships have grown from that small, hospitable gesture. And out of one of those friendships came a cooking club where I met more wonderful people.
To hear people’s stories over a cup of coffee, to see their faith as we nibble on muffins together or sandwiches, to witness their life struggles and see their determination to survive as we chat and sip a frosty glass of lemonade; to be able to refresh their weary, battered souls with a simple meal and something hot or cold to drink, and to get to know them, pray with them, and see the world through their eyes over a humble meal. Surely as we bid farewell on our exchanges, we realized we have encountered an immortal soul that wasn’t so obvious at first.
As I daydream on that thought, my mind pitter-pats down a quaint little cobblestone roadway, lined with cypress and fig trees and ordinary little wildflowers, to a story settled upon its dusty foundation like an old stone cottage Medurag in the New Testament books of Luke and Matthew, about a king who made a great wedding feast.
The Parable of the Great Supper
15 Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread[c] in the kingdom of God!”
16 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 But they all with oneaccord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and thelame and the blind.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’” Luke 14:15-24 (NKJV)
The Parable of the Wedding Feast
22 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said:2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, 3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’ 5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and[a] cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:1-14 (NKJV)
Jesus had been invited to dinner at a ruler of the Pharisees’ (Jewish high priest’s) house on the Sabbath day. Taking note of His surroundings and knowing all their hearts, He steered the conversation with some hospitality advice:
#1. Don’t assume a place of honor when you attend a party, because the host may ask you to move to a less honorable seat, and if you are the type that cares what other people think this will embarrass you in front of all the guests. Rather, always take a seat in the humblest place in the room, then if the host means for you to have honor he will ask you to move to a place of honor, and you will be honored in front of everyone.
“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
It makes me wonder, what type of guest I am? What kind of guest will I be in God’s house? Will I be clamoring for a place of honor as James and John did in Mark 10, asking if they could sit on His right and left in His kingdom? Jesus replied to their request, “The kingdom of God is different from the kingdoms of the world. In heaven whoever wishes to be great shall be a servant, and whoever desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
To be honest, I imagine I will be extremely grateful just to be allowed in the room. I might be jealous of the fancy meal being served to the most honored guests, but I shall be content even if all I get to eat are the scraps that fall from my Master’s table (Mark 7:28).
“But he who glories, let him glory in the Lord, for it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”
2 Corinthians 10:17-18
#2. Jesus turned His chair around to the host of the party, admonishing that a host is not to invite only his friends, or brothers, or relatives, or rich neighbors — people who can return the act of kindness (which were probably the majority in attendance that day). But rather, to call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind, “…for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
Hmmm… what type of host I am? A fairly uncomfortable one I must confess. My parties (I use that term loosely) are mostly small, clicky gatherings of people I am comfortable with – family, or close friends. I do, very much enjoy getting to know new people, but I often let trust issues, and self-consciousness, my ADD, and lack of skill at making conversation get in the way. So what type of parties do I throw? Hmmm? Well, most of them are gifts of service: family suppers, cooking club suppers, luncheons for teachers, baby showers, football game parties, and birthday dinners. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the big, showy, hoity toity wingdings thrown by the rich or famous, the movers and shakers, the pillars of society. You know the kind, the balls and banquets and fundraising parties that are the envy of the uninvited. I avoid those like the plague, not that I’ve ever been invited to very many of them anyway. Ha!
When one of those who sat at the table with Jesus heard these things, he said to Him,
“Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”
And that’s right where I believe Jesus had hoped to steer the conversation! This man, God bless him, got down to the meat of the matter – that God the Father has a feast awaiting us all in glory? Papa’s put the kettle on. By this man’s statement he testifies that the Jewish feasts all point to heavenly fulfillments. That each one reflects something of God’s kingdom. That all are a copy and shadow of things to come (Hebrews 8:5; 9:23,24; 10:1; Colossians 2: 16,17). That everything in life and the scriptures is part of this great chiastic structure of IS and WAS and IS TO COME, a magnificent ring structure where everything and everyone will come full circle. On earth as it is in heaven!
Jesus, warmed by what He heard, elbowed up to the young man and started into a story that inspires me and give me courage.
Confession: I’ve always been kind of nervous about “witnessing,” but it is probably because I’ve misunderstood it. It isn’t a contest. It isn’t what gets us into heaven. It isn’t putting people on the spot with a high-pressure sales pitch, although for the choleric go-getter it might be his preferred modus operandi. And it’s not a lights/camera/action performance, although for the gregarious class clown it might be the way he sees to do it.
For this slightly introverted Phlegmatic it is a comfort to know that it can be a hot meal and a clean bed. It can be actions-which-speak-louder-than-words; it should be kindly affectioned, with brotherly love; laughing with those who laugh…weeping with those who weep; resisting an evil person, but if our enemy is hungry, feed him. And if someone compels us to walk a mile with them, walk with them two (Matthew 5:39 & 41).
Jesus lovingly encourages me, a sort-of shy girl, to simply, “Say hello!” and “Smile!” And lets me hide behind His apron strings for protection, until I am more comfortable, I think because He wants for me to love others as He has loved me. We are all gifted differently (1 Cor.12:4) so that we may be all things to all people (1 Cor.9:22).
Getting back to Jesus and His discourse: “A certain man-made a great supper, and bade many: and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things…”
Ever planned a get-together and several of your guests stood you up? Ever finally mustered the courage to share your faith with a friend or relative, and it somehow landed wrong and ended the friendship? DO NOT GROW WEARY in doing good, for in due time you shall reap a harvest if you do not give up!!!
“…Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the crippled and the lame, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out unto the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.’”
As I ramble along this passage of God’s word gathering fistfuls of yellow dandelions, coneflowers, and Indian paintbrush between these words of Luke, my mind flutters like a butterfly along the fence rails of my own country road, beyond this scorching southern sunset, and even drifting into heaven itself…
God’s got a dinner gathering planned to knock our socks off. His guest list is huge! Growing and shrinking and growing all the time. The Bible, the whole of the word of God is about that table at the end . It all points there.
“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” Revelation 19:6-9
From Genesis God has been telling us this story. His first act of hospitality was extended to Adam and his family. God made him a beautiful garden to sleep in and take care of, and offered him his first meal (Genesis 2:15, 16). Some of his kids however rejected God; they decided they didn’t want to be their brother’s keeper and went their own way.
Along came Noah. In Genesis 9 and God made a covenant with him that included a cleansed planet to live on and a feast of meat and herbs (vs. 3). And Noah planted a vineyard there. Some of the descendents of Noah decided they didn’t care about God anymore either.
So God sent out another invitation to Abraham, and once Abraham and his family were safely moved in beside their new neighbors in the land that God showed him, the priest of God Most High brought over a royal feast of bread and wine and welcomed him to the neighborhood. And Abraham gave gifts in return (Genesis 14:18-20). He also practiced hospitality himself (Genesis 18:1-8) and it became a common thing to do (Genesis 24:31-33).
Then up rolled Moses to bring God’s children back from Egypt to the Promised Land, and there was a covenant made and a Passover Meal (Exodus 12:14) shared. On their journey the Lord provided bread from heaven and water from a rock. He set some ground rules and gave them a building where they could meet with Him. And He established certain feasts to be observed during the year that give little glimpses of heaven.
God’s hospitality to His children was offered by judges and kings and prophets, but time and time again the messengers were rejected. So God plumped up His guest list even more and sent his very own Son Jesus to personally gather in literally the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind of Israel. And still there is room in heaven.
So the Lord has permitted that all people everywhere may attend His grand banquet. He revealed his guest list to Peter (Acts 10) and then sent Paul as His invitation bearer to these people of other nations – you and I, to compel us to come. It is His hope that our getting to come will cause His first children (Israel) who have turned Him down to wake up and want to attend, and fill God’s house.
Our heavenly Father has set a table in heaven with places for all of us around it. Our whole lives, our whole existences are about coming to God’s table…having that glass of wine with Him and the broken crust of bread…communing with Him.
“…Thou preparest a table before me…” Psalm 23:5
((( Click here for the Free Printable coloring page: Thou Preparest a Table2 )))
“Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God,”
I’ve always wondered about the two places in scripture where Jesus draws back from participating in a certain activity, saying My time has not fully come. The first instance was at the wedding in Cana when Mary, His mother, asked Him basically to show His works and do something about the lack of wine. First of all, Jesus didn’t ever show His works as a sort of sales pitch for His identity, or to prove that He was God. He did each one out of compassion for the hurting person before Him. Jesus obeyed His mother, but did this work in secret, and perhaps, His reluctance to manifest a miracle with wine (especially the wine for a wedding banquet) was because His time for the wedding banquet wine fully comes in heaven, …at THAT table, at THAT wedding feast, with THAT cup, and THAT bread. That will be the fulfillment of the Last Supper. It is where He will eat and drink of the communion again, WITH US!!! He is saving Himself for that very special feast, and will not drink of the cup of our covenant until we are all able to drink it with Him there, at His table, in His kingdom.
The second time Jesus made that statement (in John 7), His brothers were getting ready to go the Feast of Tabernacles and pushing Him to also go and show His works to the people. Jesus said for them to go without Him, as His time had not fully come. Jesus did end up going, later, but secretly. Perhaps it was because the true tabernacle is with God and not men (Hebrews 8:2). Jesus was going to the place of many mansions (Sukkahs, tabernacles) to help prepare the GREAT FEAST that will be served in God’s Tabernacle. Our Lord has slipped away to prepare our places, that where He is we may be also, and He is waiting for His Father’s command to return for us, His bride.
“Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”
I look forward to sharing that cup and meal with you my friend. Until then, let us be about the Lord’s work in whatever ways the Lord has gifted us for the task. Let us share as many meals as we can, great and small, extravagant and humble, and meet as many of God’s angels as He has placed among us, for the pure blessing of it. In Christian LOVE! God bless you.