By Stuart Powell
Have you ever wondered if Jesus would eat a meal at your house? Have you ever imagined yourself living in a first-century village in Galilee the day Jesus came to visit? Would you have been bold enough to ask a miracle-working prophet to join you at your table?
I think if I had the courage to ask, Jesus would have accepted the invitation. Why do I think that? Because Jesus had a reputation among the pious in Judea. The Gospel writer offered a glimpse of how the Jewish leaders summarized Jesus’ social standards: “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them'” (Luke 15:1, 2; English Standard Version).
Jesus did not let the barrier of moral failures dictate his fellowship standards. He would not conform to the Pharisees’ standards to determine with whom he ate. Jesus assessed every person he encountered as worthy of his attention. He passionately desired to have fellowship with each person he met . . . even those Pharisees who condemned his liberal welcoming practices.
Jesus has the same standard today. This is the table of Jesus’ fellowship. It is a table for all people. Jesus alone determines who is welcome to eat and drink. Every believer who surrendered to Jesus’ grace is invited to share in the emblems of remembrance—the loaf for his body, the cup for his blood. Jesus gave everything in his sacrifice so that all people would have the choice to follow after him . . . and the opportunity to eat at his table.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.