Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. Beyond the horizon is rest beckoning me. Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me.
I’m having a dinner party next week to celebrate my 71st. You are all invited. The menu isn’t yet decided so if anybody has food allergies, restrictions, or dietary quirks, please let me know now. I don’t expect a full table as several of my friends took issue with my political stance in 2016, a few of my church associates don’t agree with my views on theology, the next door neighbors aren’t speaking ever since I asked them to curb their dogs, and numerous family members have disowned me because of – well, let’s just say they don’t approve of my choice in life partners. Other than those decliners, I’d say we’ll have a table to celebrate.
I wonder if Jesus would accept my invitation? Would he come to my party and share a meal with me despite my, er….limitations? I know he sat with his disciples for the Passover meal before he was crucified. But, they were all of like minds. They were his devoted followers. Even a man as revered and popular as Jesus could only get a dozen people to his dinner. Lord, maybe I should be content with three of four people. Do you think Jesus would come to my birthday dinner? Would you mind sharing a table with him?
Maybe he had doubts, too, about his dinner plans. The laws in the Book of Leviticus defined right from wrong in Jewish culture. The Scriptures tell me that Jesus suffered severe rebukes from the Jewish hierarchy for his departures from those laws. The dietary and social customs were very strict and he broke most of them.
“Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. ‘What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?'” MATTHEW 9: 10-11 The Message
It seems that those Pharisees were not easy men to please. Jesus said:
“For John the Baptist is come eating no bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, he hath a demon. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.” LUKE 7:33-34 ASV
He shared dinner with a Pharisee, named Simon, and when he had taken his place at the table
“…..a woman from the city – notorious as a woman of ill repute – follows him in. She has heard that Jesus will be at the Pharisee’s home, so she comes in and approaches Him, carrying an alabaster flask of perfumed oil. Then she begins to cry, she kneels down so her tears fall on Jesus’ feet, and she starts wiping his feet with her own hair. Then she actually kisses his feet, and she pours the perfumed oil on them.” LUKE 7:36-38 the Voice
Simon was shocked and questioned whether Jesus was truly a Prophet because he thought a prophet would not associate with a harlot. Not only did Jesus share meals with those whom the traditions of Judaism considered unworthy, he stayed overnight in their houses.
“……he looked up, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they (Pharisees) saw it, they all murmured, saying, he is gone in to lodge with a man that is a sinner.'” LUKE 19:5-7 ASV
The Judaic laws presented in Leviticus chapters 17-24, the laws which excluded multitudes of people from the “table” were not Jesus’ idea of God. He met and knew a different God – one who was all about mercy and compassion.
Jesus is definitely coming to my birthday dinner. Don’t any of you worry about putting on your best clothes or sprucing up your manners. He doesn’t care about that. All he wants is your heart and your soul. Hmmmm, what does one cook for Jesus? Should we have a birthday cake? I guess pork is not a good idea.