By Stephen Leonard
“When He was at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him.” Luke 24:30-31
Jesus appeared to His disciples and others a number of times in the forty days He remained on earth before ascending to His Father. When you read the accounts of His appearances, you may not notice something common to many of them. You may skip over it because it seems, at first glance, mundane and extraneous. But it is nothing of the sort.
Jesus ate with His disciples almost every time He appeared to them. In fact, it was during the time He “broke bread with them” that two of the disciples finally recognized Him (Luke 24). “Breaking bread” is a phrase signifying sharing a meal with others. In that locked room with His disciples, they gave Him fish they were eating for Him to eat with them.
When He met them on the beach of the Sea of Galilee, He had prepared breakfast for all of them. The night before He died, He had introduced the Lord’s Supper in the midst of a meal. The first scene of our eternal life with Him is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19). We obviously eat in eternity.
Why an interest in eating when fellowshipping with our Lord? Because eating with Him is one way we share close fellowship and intimacy. Revelation 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.” Sharing a meal with Him and/or with others is a certain sign of close fellowship.
Even now, we celebrate with one another around meals. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, Labor Day! There is no reason to only celebrate and fellowship on those holidays. Every meal, every day is a time of fellowship and celebration.
We pray before every meal to thank God for providing our daily bread. We always invite His presence, as in Revelation 3:20. Meals ought to be a sacred time. A time for fellowship, thanksgiving, warm conversation, evangelism, learning, teaching, and growing in relationships. It is what Jesus was doing in these appearances. It is what He did in His three-year ministry. Look at the meals He shared with others recounted in the Scriptures.
Feeding the five thousand was a big celebratory meal. Think of the time He was the recipient of expensive perfume poured over His feet. At supper time, He got up from the meal and washed His disciples’ feet. Remember the judgment of His critics that He ate and drank with sinners. He always enjoyed meals with others, such as His meal with Zacchaeus in his house.
I suggest that we not eat meals on the run, but rather find time and make time for your meals to be a time of fellowship with one another, a time seeking to enjoy the company of fellow believers or with folk you are meeting for the first time.
These are times to love and instruct your children. Whether you realize it or not, family times around a meal is something your children will always remember. That is, if you still do that. If not, you should!
We give thanks in prayer at every meal. Deuteronomy 6 implies that you teach your children as you sit in your house. This sitting often happens at a meal. Even when you eat by yourself, you can make it a meal with you engaging with the Lord, just the two of you. We must eat. Make the time a celebration of life, especially of the giver of life.
My wife and my greatest entertainment is eating together, out or in. More so than any other activity, you can use this as a time of enjoyment: enjoyment of food, of one another, and the One who provides the food. Make your meals sacred. Your daily bread is a gift from the Lord, not only the bread itself, but the time used to consume it.
“Thou spread’st a table in my sight; Thine unction grace bestoweth; and O what transport of delight from Thy pure chalice floweth.”
(5th verse of Henry Baker’s versification of Psalm 23, 1868)