Why Eating Together Is a Big Deal to Jesus

Jack Wakefield • 3 minutes

What were mealtimes like when you were growing up? Was eating together a big deal in your family, or just a chore to keep you going? When it comes to holidays, the gathering for the big, family mealtime always seems like a big deal—and would you believe March has many holidays dedicated to our love of food? I bet you’ve never heard of these food holidays, so I’ll let you in on them.

There’s Peanut Butter Lover’s Day on March 1, National Banana Cream Pie Day on March 2, National Chicken Noodle Soup Day on March 13, and my personal favorite: on March 7, it’s National Cereal Day!

Mealtime was a big deal to Jesus because it was a chance to deepen friendships, welcome strangers, and serve the poor. Could our everyday ordinary mealtimes do the same?

One of the best food-related holidays during the year, however, is Eat Better, Eat Together Month. This holiday brings us closer to Jesus’ view of mealtimes. In the Bible, we often see Jesus stopping to eat with others. Eating together was a big deal to Jesus because it was a chance to deepen friendships, welcome strangers and serve the poor. Could our everyday, ordinary mealtimes do the same?

Deepen friendships

Shortly before He was arrested, Jesus invited His disciples to share a meal with Him. It was Passover. Jesus wanted to invest deeply in His closest friendships, reminding them of His love and equipping them for what lay ahead.

Isn’t it funny how friendships deepen over a meal? Just inviting friends to dinner can create space for honest conversations, encouragement, and the chance to pray together. When have you seen friendships deepen over dinner?

Welcome Strangers

One of the most well-known stories of Jesus sharing food involved a few loaves of bread, a couple of fish, and 5000 guests. He didn’t have to stay, but He chose to be with them to teach us about God’s generosity, welcoming everyone to His metaphorical table.

I remember moving to a new church a few years back. Lots of people said hello. But one couple went a step further and invited me to lunch. I suddenly felt more like family than a first-time visitor. In a world that can be hostile to outsiders, we can use a simple, shared mealtime to welcome in the stranger. Who could you invite?

Serve the Poor

Finally, in Luke 14 while Jesus ate at a Pharisee’s (translate: religious leader’s) house, He challenged him on the invite-list. Essentially, He said: “If you’re giving a fancy dinner party, don’t invite your friends and your fancy VIPs. Invite those who never get invited, like the poor and the outcasts. That’s how to receive a reward from Me.”

I led a project at college for students and homeless people to eat together each Saturday. It was a powerful way to cross the divide and enjoy one other’s company. Inviting people to the table is important, but in our global world, there’s another important way we can show hospitality to the poor. Consider this. Lots of food comes from farmers in developing countries, who are already experiencing the impact of climate change. Small actions can reduce our impact on the climate and support fair wages for producers, like buying fairtrade or organic, or even eating a little less red meat. Each of these choices can be an act of hospitality—actively remembering those who made the food as we enjoy it with friends and strangers alike.

So, who will you invite to dinner this week?