Around the Table with God

Jesus is God in the flesh. He reveals the heart, nature and intentions of God. When you read the gospel narratives through this lens everything changes. Read Mark 2:15-17 from this angle.

“Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with such scum?’ When Jesus heard this, he told them, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.'”

Who you eat with says a lot about you. Eating a meal is one of the most intimate gestures of human life. God chooses to eat with the broken, the outcast, the rejected, the lost and the sick. This is a God who lives in the fray. This is a God who is fearless in the face of pain and need.

The irony of the passage is in the two categories mentioned by Jesus. In reality, there is one category for humanity…the only difference is whether or not one embraces reality. In the words of Paul, “there is no one righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10). God is saying to us all: come and sit at my table. He is a hospitable God.

The Welcome of God

Reading Romans 15 this morning I came across this phrase that has become a favorite to me. “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Rom 15:7). In the context Paul is urging the church to embrace others in spite of differences and disagreements. He is calling them to selfless service. He tells them to imitate Jesus who “did not please himself” (Rom 15:3). At the heart of his instruction stands the cross (Rom 15:4). The greatest act of service and the warmest welcome are both found in the cross of Christ. On that tree Jesus refused to please himself and instead gave himself away for the good of others. The arms of God spread open on the cross are God’s welcome to sinful humanity. He has welcomed us. We therefore are called to welcome others no matter the differences. The cross puts sacrifice at the heart of hospitality.