42. The Dining Table: Food for Hungry Souls

The last post tried to demonstrate how a shared family meal is powerfully generative, with the power to produce, or generate a way of thinking, acting, and responding to circumstances. In particular, children learn from the adults at the table not only civilized table manners and social customs, but about life and death, good and evil, right and wrong. In short, the table is a place for a child to observe what it means to be an adult. For believers, this becomes even more significant, because this is our shared practice for learning what it means to be a man, woman, child, and family of God.

It is also deep mystery how shared table time as a routine practice helps children develop a healthy attitude toward ritual and tradition. It has a potent and lifelong carryover effect on their sense of family and belief, acting as a liturgy of sorts for creating that daily rhythm of how a flourishing family life should flow. And, in this day and age, when culture kidnaps our children at younger and younger ages, this table time protects them. The physical food they eat with us is a symbol of God’s ever-present provision, help and sustenance. This family table is the place we can teach our children what we know of God, and where they can watch us live that love out.

Over many years as a professor at a Christian college, I had students regularly tell me of their struggles to know God. They are so fraught with an urgency to seem grown up without really wanting just yet to actually grow up, that they tend to leave looking for God by the wayside as they try to find themselves. This is quite natural for that age, but they almost universally and wistfully wish they could balance school, work, friends, and faith better than they do. In nearly every situation, my best counsel to them was to become more familiar with who God is, and to study his attributes, his Word, his actions throughout the generations, his dying and undying love for them, and his unchangeable nature. For my students, so focused on mission, I point them toward God because they need a better-developed sense of co-mission as they train (this, too is practice) for a lifelong vocation.

What does that have to do with the family table? The table, with its rich undertones of grace, acceptance, sustenance and togetherness is where parents can use, no matter how brief, the stories of the day just ending to teach their children about God. Mary wasn’t much older than a child when Gabriel announced God’s favor upon her. In her song of response, Mary demonstrates a deep knowledge of and trust in God, exclaiming, “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” (Luke 1:50-55)

Mary knows, fears, and reveres her God. It is nearly impossible to revere or fear a God you do not know well. When our knowledge and understanding of God is unformed, we are vulnerable to the human tendency to revere and fear the wrong things. When we revere money, we find ourselves fearing a fickle economy. If we revere health and youth, then illness, aging, even dying frighten us. Our reverence for providing for our own safety and security is born out of a fear of tragedy or calamity. But, at the table, we learn about a God who says throughout history, “Trust me, let peace rule in your heart. I care for you. I give you bread not stones. I love you so much and so completely that I died for you. I am here for you, present among you, and I will never leave you.”

The table truly does provide a powerful opportunity for testimony to our children. In our families, sharing our lives, our family history, our joys and our tears around the table, we also share in the love and knowledge of God. Our children not only learn the stories of our faith, they learn the stories of the family’s encounters with God through its history. We model for children what it means to trust God, to love him with a sincere and devoted heart out of fear and reverence for his holiness, his incarnation, his substitutionary death, and his promise to return. “Food is a direct route to the intimacies of life.”[1] This is food for hungry souls.

Think about planning some family meals this week-for everyone’s sake!

~Julie A.P. Walton, Ph.D.

[1] Weinstein, The Surprising Power of Family Meals, p. 69.

Featured image by J.Holberg, 2016


41. Be GENERATIVE. Sit. Eat. With. Your. Kids.

You must make it happen. There is NO OTHER WAY.  The evening family meal is restorative; it provides time, space, food, and companionship for soothing the rough patches created by the demands of both this day, and of the day anticipated tomorrow. It helps cement people together and organize the family as a team. Table time as a family is for discovery too. We share our experiences and the things we’ve learned, and can discuss whether our responses to particular situations were the right ones.

When our daughter began fourth grade at a new school she encountered her first bully. Week after week, we spent time as a family, almost always at the dinner table, discussing what the bully said today, how she acted on the bus, and what we, as a family should do about it. We prayed together. My husband and I advised our daughter to adopt a “kill the situation with kindness” attitude, but not because we wanted to teach her non-confrontation.[1] On the contrary, we felt that intentionally-responsive smiles and kind words on our daughter’s part comprised precisely the type of loving confrontation Jesus would have practiced. At first, our daughter’s responses only infuriated this bully to grander displays of meanness (all verbal), but, to give her credit, our daughter persevered and trusted that this decision, made as a family at the dinner table, was the right course of action. We also counseled our daughter to try her hardest to imagine what could make another little girl so angry and mean, and to pray for her to experience the joy of a changed heart. Was this bully unloved at home? Was she sad? Did she really just need a friend and not know, socially, how to make one? Our daughter prayed for this girl for many weeks. Eventually, the bullying stopped. Our daughter learned that responding in kind is never as good as responding with kindness. She learned that some people are unloved and unloving. She learned to pray for an enemy, and to ask for prayer. And, she learned that, as a family, we took her problem seriously and were concerned for the outcome. All in the intimacy of the family table.

This helps demonstrate how a shared family meal is powerfully generative, meaning that it has the power to produce, or generate a way of thinking, acting, and responding to circumstances. In particular, children learn from the adults at the table not only civilized table manners and social customs, but about life and death, good and evil, right and wrong. In short, the table is a place for a child to observe what it means to be an adult. For believers, this becomes even more significant, because this is our shared practice for learning what it means to be a man, woman, child, and family of God.

It is also deep mystery how shared table time as a routine practice helps children develop a healthy attitude toward ritual and tradition. It has a potent and lifelong carryover effect on their sense of family and belief, acting as a liturgy of sorts for creating that daily rhythm of how a flourishing family life should flow. And, in this day and age, when culture kidnaps our children at younger and younger ages, this table time protects them. The physical food they eat with us is a symbol of God’s ever-present provision, help and sustenance. This family table is the place we can teach our children what we know of God, and where they can watch us live that love out.

[1] This particular eight year-old girl was not a physical threat, nor did she act as part of a larger group of bullies picking on our daughter, and this happened before social networking made e-bullying a reality. This little girl was just miserably mean. One reason we monitored the situation so closely each night at the supper table was to discern if adult intervention was called for.  But, we also wanted our daughter to learn to positively handle life’s challenges on her own with God’s help and wisdom.

Until next time!

Julie A.P. Walton, Ph.D.

31. Jesus at Your Table!

We have seen throughout this entire chapter that Jesus came eating and drinking, so we should not be surprised that this is also how he spent his last evening on earth. In the face of what he knew was coming on the morrow, he remained faithful to the practice of a shared meal with those he loved. Jesus intends for this Last Supper to be repeated, put into practice on a regular basis if you will. By appropriating the custom of the Passover Feast “continually celebrated [by the faith community] as a perpetual institution,”[1] Jesus frames the context of what will become the practice of both the shared and the sacred meal in the church.

When we sit down to share a meal with others, we don’t typically pass the bread and sip the wine in remembrance of Jesus, particularly if there are people at the table we don’t know very well, or people who don’t know Jesus. Even so, a meal shared by believers in the company of unbelievers is filled with Jesus’ presence.

Such a meal can be effectively used by believers together to remember him, and in a non-threatening way to introduce Jesus to others. Perhaps we remember and share one of his parables. Maybe we wonder aloud what he would do in a certain situation, or intentionally express our gratitude for the food God has provided. Like Jesus, we may confront wayward behavior or thinking, or entreat others to listen to what Jesus has to say.   In remembering, we give testimony to others about our own life experiences when the blood of this Jesus saved us from the folly of our own sin-induced slavery, when he opened our hearts to hear his Word even as death passed us by, when we finally understood what Jesus undertook to save us by becoming the sacrificial lamb for the salvation of those who believe, by dying in our place to pay for our wickedness. If, like the Jewish leadership, Jesus had maintained separation as a way to preserve his purity in the face of our sin-fed uncleanness, he would not condescend to eat with us, and we would have no hope. Instead, he shares a meal with us, and means for us to share it with others.

It’s true. When we share food around a table, we can always share Jesus too, especially as we remember all the times and many ways he has been present in our lives. At your daily table, Jesus is there, eager to share a meal with you, your family, and your guests. It is this common experience of eating in Jesus’ presence and remembering him that

  • gives us sanctuary from life’s storms
  • gently reminds us to be mindful of our thoughts, motives, and deeds
  • prompts us to carry out his co-mission to make disciples and be actively at work in the kingdom
  • and looks forward with fervent anticipation to the day of his return and the great feast we will share with him in heaven.

Next time we move on to the next chapter to address meals in the first century church.  Keep reading!

~ Julie A.P. Walton, Ph.D.

[1] John Paul Heil, The Meal Scenes in Luke Acts: An Audience-Oriented Approach, p.175.

29. Meals for Prodigals

Luke records several parables in chapter 15 about the lost condition of sinners and the redemption available following repentance. These culminate in the parable of the prodigal son, where Jesus describes a famously wayward son who returns home hungry after squandering his inheritance. By rights, his father need not take him back. But, this father has been watching for his son’s return, and sets in motion a grand feast to celebrate the son’s reinstatement in the family.

Here is a feast to note. When a lost loved one returns home with a changed heart, when s/he seeks forgiveness, our natural response should be one of joyful celebration through feasting. It’s a recurring theme throughout the meal stories in the Gospel of Luke; repentance, reconciliation, and redemption are available to all. Our place at God’s table is waiting for our change of heart, which is the catalyst leading to a reformed and responsive life, reenergized by eating the spiritual food Jesus provides.

Not long after preaching the “lost” parables, and getting closer to his last days in Jerusalem, Jesus finds himself in Jericho, peering up into a sycamore tree at Zacchaeus, the town’s chief tax collector. Looking him in the eyes, Jesus doesn’t bother asking Zacchaeus what he wants. Instead, Jesus tells Zacchaeus that he plans on staying at his house. One minute Zacchaeus is “lost” among the tree’s leaves, and the next he is jumping down with rejoicing. Immediately, another meal with “sinners” is in the works. It must have been a very happy meal indeed, marked by a festive welcome unlike any Jesus had experienced in the homes of the Pharisees.

Just imagine:  Jesus coming up to you and asking you to set a place at your dining room table for him!  What’s the menu?  Who else would you invite?  What would the table conversation be like?  Believe it or not, the day is coming when you WILL be seated at the wedding feast table with Jesus the bridegroom. Jesus the lamb of God.  The bread of life.  The Lord of your life.  Wow!  Jesus welcomes you, the prodigal, you, the sinner, with open arms, and the first order of business is a shared meal!

28. Your Table MINISTRY

Not surprisingly, this latest meal (see post 27) infuriates the Pharisees and teachers of the law to the point that they begin to organize a hostile opposition to Jesus. Likewise, Jesus escalates his attacks in Luke 12 and 13, publicly warning followers about the hypocrisy and murderous intent of the Jewish leadership. Jesus speaks with urgency of a coming day in which there will be a great feast in the kingdom of God, and exhorts people to humbly repent and be faithful.

Not long after this, Jesus attends a Sabbath meal at the home of a prominent Pharisee. For the Jews, the Sabbath was a feast day, so this is no ordinary meal. “Whereas Jesus was explicitly invited to the earlier meals, now, although an invitation may be implied, none is narrated, as Jesus merely “went into the house”” (Luke 14:1).[1] Can you imagine the scene? These leaders have been plotting to permanently incapacitate Jesus’ growing influence amongst the Jews, and here he is, on a Sabbath no less, showing up uninvited for dinner and playing, supposedly, right into their scheme.

Luke leaves out details of the meal and proceeds straight to the events of the after-meal symposium/discussion. Knowing that the Pharisees and lawyers are watching him carefully, Jesus looks up to find a man with dropsy[2] standing in front of him. It is hard to think otherwise that this is a setup, especially because this unclean man appears in front of Jesus in the center part of the dining room reserved for the activities of the symposium, rather than at his feet where bystanders were tolerated. By way of providing a controversy for the after-dinner symposium, the host may have deliberately encouraged the man with dropsy to go stand in front of Jesus in hopes Jesus would dare to heal on the Sabbath.

In ancient times, dropsy was thought to result from a habitual overindulgence in food and alcohol, in other words, of uncontrolled appetite.  Luke implies a connection here between the physical greed of the sick man and the moral greed of the diners, portraying Jesus as the medium for healing in both cases. First Jesus heals the man with dropsy while arguing that anyone would rescue even an imperiled ox or donkey on the Sabbath. And, if that’s the case, why should saving a man be any different?   Interestingly, after Jesus heals the man and sends him away, the other diners uncharacteristically refrain from comment. Either they are sullen or bewildered by Jesus’ authority or both.

Again, Jesus uses a meal to teach about salvation as he masterfully takes advantage of the others’ silence to introduce his own after-dinner controversy (which implies he usurps the host’s authority). He directly challenges the way these men jockeyed for positions of honor at the table at the start of the meal, confronting the moral greed which compels a person preoccupied with status to manipulate others for the sake of social standing. Moreover, Jesus challenges the host to rethink his typical invitation list, urging him to invite people on the margins of society instead of his elite, status-seeking, self-righteous peers. Jesus teaches them that the great banquet in the kingdom of God will include people in desperate need of healing, those who are poor, crippled, blind and lame (Luke 14:21). What his dining companions fail to understand is that they themselves are “the spiritually poor-with nothing to offer for [their] salvation; the spiritually crippled-made powerless by sin; the spiritually blind-unable to see the truth about Jesus; [and] the spiritually lame-unable to come to God on [their] own.”[3]

These are lessons taught and learned at the table that should make us consider what we believe, and how we lead our own lives as a result of that belief. In a sense, our meals and our behavior at meals reflect what we believe, especially about Christian community and hospitality, as well as our attitude toward people on the fringes of society. The truth is, when we invite others to our table, we usually do so with the mindset of entertaining them rather than sharing the food of the gospel and its power to transform lives. We are hesitant to embrace total strangers at our family table, finding ourselves far more comfortable including only people we know well, and who happen to be a lot like us.

Perhaps it’s time to view our table as an active place for ministry. Do you know people who seem unable to come to God, blinded to his truth, or determined to save themselves all by themselves? Invite them over for a meal and watch God work!

~ Julie A.P. Walton, Ph.D.

[1] John Paul Heil, The Meal Scenes in Luke Acts: An Audience-Oriented Approach, p. 99.

[2] Today, we’d call this edema, or generalized swelling of tissues related to a host of causes, including heart and renal failure, liver disease related to abuse of alcohol, sodium retention, and abnormal blood pressure. For example, women with breast cancer who have lymph nodes removed often suffer from lymphedema, a significant swelling of the arm related to fluid obstruction in the lymphatic pathway.

[3] Tim Chester, A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table, p. 79.

27. A Woeful Dinner with Jesus

Once again, Jesus is invited by a Pharisee for a formal meal (Luke 11: 37-54). From the start, and to the surprise of his host, Jesus is immediately confrontational by purposefully neglecting to wash before the meal (washing was not demanded in the law, but was an expected ceremonial act of cleansing in Pharisaic tradition). “[H]is surprising disregard of the ritual washing before a meal functions as the fait divers that sparks the dispute of this banquet symposium.”[1]

Jesus uses the opportunity of the table’s intimacy to launch into a diatribe against the vainglory of his host and dining companions. Can you imagine a more uncomfortable scene? Jesus pronounces woe on them all, calling them dirty, greedy, wicked, unjust, self-inflated, foolish, irresponsible, and bloodthirsty. The Jewish religious leaders and experts in the law find themselves in an indefensible situation, and their self-righteous anger mounts with each new invective from this itinerant (and unclean) teacher.

Luke does not make us privy to how this meal concludes. But, the message here is important. It is at these shared meals that Jesus calls sinners to repentance; the meals anticipate both the Last Supper and Lord’s Supper and are always concerned with the redemption of the lost. Furthermore, we should realize that not every meal we share with others will be a love fest. Sometimes, sin must be confronted, even with the knowledge that people will be hurt, insulted, and become angry. Not only that, but there’s every possibility that we will be the ones being shown our mistaken ways by others who love us.

We would do well to honestly consider how we live our inner life on a regular basis, and address those places in which our self-congratulation may very well be a woeful thing to our Lord.

In post 28, we will look at yet another of Jesus’ meals with Pharisees-this time when a man with dropsy just “happens to show up” while Jesus is eating.

~Julie A.P. Walton, Ph.D.

[1] John Paul Heil, The Meal Scenes in Luke Acts: An Audience-Oriented Approach, p. 83.

26. Self-Absorbed Hospitality

Not long after the feeding of the thousands, Jesus and his disciples arrive at the home of the sisters Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Martha is clearly the one who invites Jesus into her home. As any host might, Martha undertakes the preparations, possibly for a meeting, but more likely for a meal. But, she makes the mistake many of us make; she overdoes the menu, fussing over the preparations to such a degree that she is unable to attend to the conversation of her guests. As a result, she is not fully present to Jesus and her resentment towards her sister, Mary, who is listening at Jesus’ feet, builds and festers.

Our meal hospitality too easily goes awry when undertaken with the wrong motives. True hospitality should function to unite people, and should be guest-focused. But, Martha is divisive and self-absorbed when she interrupts Jesus by entreating him to make Mary get up and help. Selfish hospitality is always about the host. “See how beautiful I’ve made my home. See what wonderful dishes I’ve prepared for you to enjoy. See how hard I’ve worked to get everything ready. See how good I am, and how much you should thank me, and how well you should think of me.”

Martha is worried and agitated by her attempts to provide the best possible experience for her guests. Jesus gently reprimands Martha for missing what Mary has discovered: there is only one thing necessary, and that is to sit at God’s feet and listen. This is the best food, the choicest portion. Recall that in Jesus’ day, the highest-status diners were often given the best portion. So, while Mary feasts, Martha chokes because of a prideful inability to deny herself the desire that her service be publicly noticed and lauded.

The lessons for us are threefold:

  • First, simplicity is the wisest path: we must not let grand motives undermine our full participation in and enjoyment of the meal process, because discipleship at the feet of Jesus requires our active presence.
  • Second, even when we invite others into our home for a meal, Jesus is the true host.
  • Lastly, our meal hospitality must be centered on the guest(s) and their interaction with the gospel of Jesus Christ; we must never selfishly divert attention away from Christ to ourselves.

A Personal Note: With summer nearly here, and an urgent need to watch over an ailing parent, I am scaling back these posts to 1x/week until autumn.  Please keep reading!  If you have fallen behind, each post is numbered, so you can start back where you left off.  With several hundred followers of the blog, we are reaching a wonderful threshold for discipleship across our individual churches!  PLEASE SHARE with your own church friends and family.

Thank you!

~Julie A.P. Walton, Ph.D.

Featured image:  Google Images, aliuf6.jpg

22. “We vs. ‘Them'”

The Jews had particular rules about who could eat with whom as Jesus’ meal with Levi reveals. The Greco-Roman meals of the day specifically encouraged and were often framed by friendship as a means of social bonding. Thus, “the meal became the primary means for celebrating and enhancing community ties.”[1] But for the Jews in particular, it is important to note that the dietary laws given in Leviticus 11 served in one sense to create a visible separation between the Jews and other people; these laws created religious and ethnic identity in very real and serious ways.

By Jesus’ day, Jewish legal tradition had added multiple layers of behaviors and requirements regarding what defined ritual purity to the dietary laws originally given by God.   Thus, righteous Jews were not only to keep the appointed feasts and ascribe to ritual purity, they were to avoid eating with Gentiles and unclean Jews, as well as anyone known to be wicked, for example those associated with the reputed gluttony, drunkenness, and sexual idolatry of Gentile feasting. So we should not be surprised that, in the case of Jesus’ meal with Levi, the Pharisees and their scribes are dismayed to see a Jewish teacher flaunting their carefully crafted rules for ritual purity. Under Roman occupation, a Jewish tax collector was vilified for being nothing better than a corrupt Roman puppet. Consequently, eating with such publicly renowned sinners made one unclean, so much so that it was unconscionable to be a friend or companion of (com meaning with and pan meaning bread) such persons. It simply was not done. But Jesus intentionally, even provocatively joins these “wicked sinners” so marginalized by the Jewish elite at mealtime, using the meal setting to demonstrate the purpose of his ministry to love the unlovable, to call them to repentance, and to openly show the grace with which God “includes those the world excludes.”

From our perspective, the Pharisees and scribes seem excessively arrogant in their self-righteous exclusivity. But, we must remember that it was God who called his people to be separate, who gave them visible boundary markers like the dietary code to preserve them from the ungodly nations all around them. “Through exclusive practices [a] group differs from its social environment. [A] group uses them to practice boundary maintenance. In contrast, the inclusive practices are also practiced by the social majority and enable their members to integrate themselves into the surrounding culture. That means that every group that wants to be discernable as a group is in need of an at least partially exclusive ethos which functions outwards as ‘boundary marker’ and inwards as ’identity marker.’”[3] So, the Pharisees and scribes, among others, were separatist for what they believed were very good reasons, and any Jew who blurred the lines of separation was, by association, himself impure. “The significance of the fact that Jesus would set the stage for the abolition of these laws in early Christian practice can scarcely be overestimated.”[4] Jesus means to show the Jewish leaders that in their self-righteous comparisons to Levi and his associates, and because of their insistence on exclusivity at the expense of inclusive love, they fail to comprehend the rottenness of the fruit of their own obedience to the letter of the law rather than its spirit.

The Pharisees continue to badger Jesus and his disciples with inflammatory questions. Why didn’t Jesus and his followers fast like John? Why did they just go on eating and drinking? Why did they pick and eat the heads of grain on the Sabbath? (Luke 5:33-6:5). Luke gives us a clear picture of how deeply the religious leaders of the day suffered from spiritual starvation-so much so that they couldn’t begin to fathom the kind of nourishment Jesus offered. The Jewish leaders were so fearful of being contaminated by the unclean that they failed, in their blinding legalism, to recognize the pure, unblemished, sinless Messiah in their midst. It is an important lesson for us when we find ourselves mired in a “we vs. them” mentality. In such instances, we should stop and reflect on our attitude to test if our determination to be exclusive is blindly sinful.

In the next post, we will study the actions and attitudes of Simon the Pharisee during a meal to which he invited Jesus.

[1] Dennis E. Smith and Hal E. Taussing, Many Tables: The Eucharist in the New Testament and Liturgy Today, (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990), p. 31.

[2] Tim Chester, A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community and Mission around the Table, 2011, p. 32.

[3] Michael Wolter, “Primitive Christianity as a Feast,” in Feasts and Festivals ed. Christopher Tuckett (Walpole, Massachusetts: Peeters, 2009), p. 172.

[4] Craig L. Blomberg, Contagious Holiness: Jesus’ Meals with Sinners, p. 39.

Featured Image credit:  Pharisee, Google Images, fireandlife.org


20. Two Birds! Repent!

Two Birds for the Lamb

On the fortieth day after Jesus’ birth, and as part of the purification rites according to the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary take six-week old Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (Luke 2:23). It is an interesting paradox that this baby, Jesus, is likewise Joseph and Mary’s and God’s firstborn son, so this is indeed a day of celebration. Still, it also a day both marked by, and foreshadowing sacrifice. Joseph and Mary bring two birds- young doves or pigeons- to sacrifice, one as a burnt offering, the other as a sin offering (as prescribed in Lev. 12:8 ) to dedicate their son Jesus to the Lord God. The birds are acceptable if parents cannot afford a year-old lamb. And so, here we see the Lamb of God of Passover significance, born into such poverty that his parents can only afford birds for the purification rites.

 A Feast and a Mission

The next we hear of Jesus in Luke is when his family travels from Nazareth up to Jerusalem for the Passover feast when Jesus is twelve years old (Luke 2:42). They feast there according to custom. It is probable that Jesus had gone up with his family for Passover feasts in previous years, since the law required Joseph, as an adult male, to attend on a yearly basis. But at the age of twelve (Scripture is very clear here about Jesus’ age being twelve, meaning he was in his thirteenth year), an Israelite boy like Jesus would have been in the midst of preparing to take his expected place among the adult males of the religious community when he turned thirteen. Jesus tells his earthly parents that he just had to be in his Father’s house, a hint that Jesus already recognized and craved intimacy with a father other than Joseph. So, here we see a pre-teen Jesus celebrating Passover in Jerusalem with, perhaps, the dawning knowledge that twenty-one years hence at this same feast of bitter herbs and unleavened bread, and in this very city which he dearly loves, he himself, the firstborn and only son of God, will become the sacrificed lamb whose sprinkled blood will safeguard and deliver the lives and souls of all who believe. In the last week of his life, Jesus sends disciples ahead into the city to prepare the Passover meal at a pre-arranged location (Luke 22:8-12). I have often wondered where, in which house in Jerusalem, Jesus’ family celebrated their Passover meals in those early years. Could it be that their family returned to the same upper room year after year, much like we return to a favorite resort or restaurant when we visit a nearby city? Could this be the same room where Jesus spent his last supper with his beloved disciples?

 Repent and Bear Fruit

In chapter three, Luke turns to the ministry of John the Baptist calling out in the desert for people to produce fruit in keeping with a repentant life. The fruit metaphor is universally used throughout the Bible to signify an edible, life-sustaining seed-bearing plant which is deep-rooted, wisely pruned, and well-watered, thriving in its season and producing an abundant crop from year to year. Jesus also uses the fruit comparison, when he curses a barren fig tree (Matt. 21:19), when he claims that “no good tree bears bad fruit,” (Luke 6:43), and when he entreats people to graft their “branches” onto his “vine” to become and remain fruit-producing believers (John 15).

To think about:  what fruit is your life producing for the kingdom?  Where could your attitudes and behaviors use some watering?  Pruning?  How can your life be sweet, wholesome, nutritious food for others?