I like food. Most people who spend any amount of time around me know I like food. I like making food, eating food, sometimes sharing food (if people ask first or I offer.) Food is one of those great things that can bring people together in a way most other events or things can’t.
So I guess it’s no surprise just how much eating is in the Bible. Many of the big key moments of the biblical narrative happen at a meal or around food of some sort. Just to name a few:
* Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
* God announcing Isaac’s birth to Sarah
* The Exodus beginning with the Passover meal
* David beginning his flight from Saul, eating the bread of the presence
* David welcoming Ish-Bosheth
* Esther saving her people from treachery happened at a banquet
* Daniel and his friends choosing veggies over unclean foods in Babylon
* A majority of Jesus’ ministry (parties and feasts – no really, go check)
* Jesus’ final Passover meal before his crucifixion
I guess I like having people over because I figure something big’s gonna happen during the meal. There’s plenty of precedence, after all.
But seriously, two meals stood out to me when I was reading up on the Easter story (yes, it’s early, but I plan ahead) for a lesson this April. I was reading the story of the Road to Emmaus. This story centers on two followers of Jesus who are heading to Emmaus, presumably their home, after the Passover week. They are distressed and discussing what had happened to Jesus when Jesus himself starts walking alongside them. They don’t recognize him, of course, but Jesus begins asking questions and ends up explaining about himself starting with Moses and the prophets and how he had to die to fulfill what was written. The followers were impressed at his knowledge and invited them to their house, and Jesus broke the bread and blessed it. Suddenly, the two travelers recognized Jesus and he vanished. They ran back to Jerusalem and told the Eleven apostles what had happened.
One phrase I left out makes a world of difference, along with a detail I had never considered. One of the commentaries I read suggested that Cleopas’s (one traveler’s name) companion might have been his wife. Which would make sense if they were headed home after Passover. The phrase is: “and their eyes were opened.” We see this several times in the Bible as a way to say someone has received understanding. Here, the two travelers received understanding that their companion was Jesus, in the flesh!
There’s another couple who receives this phrase in their story: Adam and Eve. When they eat from the tree, Genesis says, “their eyes were opened.” Suddenly, they understood disobedience and shame. They wanted to cover themselves and hide. Their understanding was pain itself.
But now fast forward to this passage in Luke: a couple has their eyes opened to the new life Jesus talked about. They see Jesus and recognize him as the Messiah, the Savior, the King. They recognize that the fear, shame, pain, and death that came from that first meal has completely changed. At a table so far separated by time, a new recognition dawns and this couple understands Jesus’ mission and victory!
So when people like me say that meals are important for the family, the biblical narrative seems to support that. Big things happen during meals. Understanding between members is fostered, and knowledge and wisdom pass from generation to generation. Laughter is shared, pain is shared. A regular family meal is something that should not be ignored, no matter how fast life moves.
May your family meals be impactful, fun, and a place of love.