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02.07.2021 Waiting Tables Luke 22:14-27 Sermon Summary

by on February 9, 2021

As we near the end to our “Dining with Christ” worship series, we come to the most well-known, remembered, and influential meal in the church since the third century—the “Last Supper.” Since the third century the church has made the “Last Supper” the first supper, but it really is neither.

I know it seems obvious to us, after eighteen centuries of practice that this is the meal of Jesus that counts the most. There is no doubt it is essential to understanding the gospel of Jesus. But as Robert J. Karris states,

This meal is the last symposium meal in a sequence of meals celebrated by Jesus, “glutton and drunkard, friend of toll collectors and sinners.” When the Lukan Jesus says in 22:19: Do this in memory of me, he is not just referring to the Passover meal he is celebrating with his male and female disciples, but to all the meals he has celebrated in his ministry. (Eating Your Way Through Luke’s Gospel p. 89). 

This is just one of the reasons to celebrate Communion weekly. This meal reflects so much.

For Jesus, meals are not just fuel for human activity. They are occasions for ministry, for proclaiming the Kingdom in teaching and healing. But more, meals not just a platform for ministry. For Jesus meals were ministry. With Jesus, meals are the Kingdom.

In Jesus’ coming, the Messianic banquet has arrived. We still pray for the Kingdom to come in its fullness. We still eat meals with Jesus until the Kingdom comes in its fullness. Paul reminded the Corinthians: “As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” And still we work with Jesus until the Kingdom comes in its fullness by serving “the least of these” as urged upon us in Matthew twenty-five.

Nonetheless, our dining with Jesus is a kingdom event. Jesus is our waiter and our host. Great waiters guide the selection of food. They can comment on the dishes. They suggest drink pairings. They create community. In the end, great waiters facilitate an experience. Jesus facilitates an encounter with the Kingdom. 

In Tim Chester’s A Meal with Jesus, he reminds us how food is related to salvation, how Jesus’ meal practice—culminating to this point in the Last Supper—relates to our salvation. Personally, I find his conclusions very challenging regarding my own relationship with food.

Food is a symbol of our dependence on God. We depend on God’s creation to produce food for our consumption. And we depend on God’s creatures which sacrifice their lives for our food.

And food is a reminder of our human interdependence. We are dependent upon those who grow, harvest, transport, and cook our meals. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his famous last Christmas sermon makes this point clear:

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. Did you ever stop to think that you can’t leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? You get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for the sponge, and that’s handed to you by a Pacific islander. You reach for a bar of soap, and that’s given to you at the hands of a Frenchman. And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that’s poured into your cup by a South American. And maybe you want tea: that’s poured into your cup by a Chinese. Or maybe you’re desirous of having cocoa for breakfast, and that’s poured into your cup by a West African. And then you reach over for your toast, and that’s given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half of the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality. (Trumpet of Conscience, pp. 71-72)

Food is the symbol of our dependence on God and human interdependence. It reminds me of Christ’s summary of the Law, that the Greatest Commandment is love God and love your neighbor.

But also: Food is a symbol of our sin. The first human disobedience was around food. Jesus’ first act of obedience was fasting from food. The first temptation he resisted was making food from stones. He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3—“We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” And yet Deuteronomy goes on to say, “The LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity” (8:7, 9)

Dining with Jesus reminds us of all this. The Last Supper summarizes all this. And we need the reminder. Food still symbolizes our sin. American Christians (not just Americans) spend fifty billion dollars on dieting ($50,000,000,000). That’s more than we offer missionaries. Now apart from genetic factors that lead to dieting, realize that food symbolizes our gluttony as we diet to counter overconsumption. And food symbolizes our vanity as we diet to change our appearance. We use food to comfort ourselves. We use drink to medicate ourselves. Instead of a right relationship with God, we look to a distorted relationship with food.

The Last Supper, with its use of symbolic food, summarizes Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom. It summarizes whole Bible’s emphasis on food. Every meal, when dining with Jesus, can make us more mindful of the Kingdom as we thank God, as we remember our neighbor, and as we share with the hungry. Dining with Jesus can correct our relationship with food.

“Do this in remembrance of me,” were Jesus’ words at the Last Supper. “Do this.” Thank God. Love your neighbor. Provide for the needy. Freely you have been served by Jesus; freely serve.

Dine with Jesus and enter the Kingdom. What is God saying to you about your relationship with food this day? What is God saying to you about your relationship with others around food this day?

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