EATING TOGETHER



Matthew 9:10-13 New International Version (Niv)

10 While Jesus Was Having Dinner at Matthew’s House, Many Tax Collectors and Sinners Came and Ate with Him and His Disciples. 11 When the Pharisees Saw This, They Asked His Disciples, “Why Does Your Teacher Eat with Tax Collectors and Sinners?”12 on Hearing This, Jesus Said, “It Is Not the Healthy Who Need a Doctor, but the Sick. 13 but Go and Learn What This Means: ‘I Desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice.’[a] for I Have Not Come to Call the Righteous, but Sinners.”


EATING MEALS TOGETHER WAS A RELIGIOUS MATTER AMONG THE PHARISEES AND OTHER OBSERVANT JEWS. RIGHTEOUS JEWS ENACTED MANY REGULATIONS TO PREVENT THEMSELVES FROM BEING CEREMONIALLY DEFILED AT MEALS. IT WAS NOT DONE SO MUCH TO EXCLUDE OTHERS AS TO SHOW COMMITMENT TO THE LAW.

MOST JEWS LIVED BY THE FOOD LAWS MOST OF THE TIME. JESUS DID SO, TOO. BUT HE REGULARLY, PURPOSEFULLY, AND OFFENSIVELY ATE WITH THOSE WHO WERE RITUALLY UNCLEAN OR WHOSE COMMITMENT TO THE LAW WAS INFERIOR. SHARING A MEAL WITH ANOTHER INDICATED BOTH COVENANTAL AND SOCIAL EQUALITY (2 KINGS 25:27-30). THE PHARISEES, BELIEVING THAT SEPARATION FROM SUCH SINNERS WAS NECESSITY FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, WERE OFFENDED BY JESUS' SHARING MEALS WITH SUCH PEOPLE (MATTHEW 9:10; 11:19; 21:28-32; LUKE 7:41-50; 15:1-2; 19:1-10).

JESUS' SHARING MEALS WITH SINFUL PEOPLE ENACTED GOD'S GRACE - HE EXTENDED GOD'S LOVE AND FORGIVENESS, WELCOMING OPEN PARTICIPATION IN A NEW SOCIETY. THIS PRACTICE DEVELOPED INTO THE EARLY CHRISTIAN COMMUNION MEALS (ACTS 2:46; 1COR 11:17-34). AS IS CLEAR FROM THE LAST SUPPER, THE MEALS JESUS SHARED WITH HIS FOLLOWERS ANTICIPATED THE FEAST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (MATTHEW 26:29; 8:11-12). THE APOSTLE PAUL EXTENDED JESUS' PRACTICE TO ENABLE FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN JEWS AND GENTILES IN THE CHURCH (GAL 2:11-21). JESUS TORE DOWN THE BERRIES SEPARATING US FROM ONE ANOTHER AND FROM GOD(EPH 2:14-18) AND CALLS US INTO FELLOWSHIP WITH ALL HIS PEOPLE.

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