I have been on a diet lately. In discussions about food and diet, two opinions predominate. One is that the world would be healthier and a better place to eat in if people gave less thought to food, and simply saw food as fuel to keep our body going. The other side of the discussion says that what we need in this world are people who make their eating choices more intentionally, thoughtfully, and wisely. According to this second group, one achieves weight loss by thinking more about food and what and how they eat.
Related to this discussion are the social implications of how, when, where, and what we eat. For example, in his book Eating Animals, progressive activist Jonathan Foer argues for veganism as an act of social justice. In Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, Ronald Sider argues that American beef production and consumption may be greedy in light of global poverty. In his new book A Meal with Jesus, Tim Chester argues that there are spiritual implications related to how we eat.
Chester focuses in on the gospel of Luke and six specific passages where Jesus either was at a meal or discussing something relating to a meal. He argues that how Jesus ate his meals, with whom he at his meals, and the lessons that he taught at those meals demonstrates key theological concerns of his ministry. Furthermore, A Meal with Jesus argues that as we put some of Jesus’ lessons around the table into practice with our table habits, we will be better disciples and better witnesses to the gospel of Jesus.
The introduction to this book is better than most introductions. Any reader would be wise not to skip over it. In it the author considers the statement by Jesus that “the Son of Man came eating and drinking,” and discusses the centrality of the meal to the gospel message.
The individual chapters will be wonderful not only for personal edification, but for a Bible study group or even as the basis for a sermon series. Each chapter examines a passage in depth, looking at how it ties into the expressed mission of Christ on earth. I plan on using this book at one point for sermons related to the Lord’s Supper.
I encourage anyone who struggles with eating, loves to eat, or is curious about how food consumption relates to the gospel, to read this book. What the reader will discover is that the meal is about far more than putting food in one’s mouth. – Clint Walker, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Meals have always been important across societies and cultures, a time for friends and families to come together. An important part of relationships, meals are vital to our social health. Author Tim Chester sums it up: “Food connects.”
Chester argues that meals are also deeply theological—an important part of Christian fellowship and mission. He observes that the book of Luke is full of stories of Jesus at meals. These accounts lay out biblical principles. Chester notes, “The meals of Jesus represent something bigger.” Six chapters in A Meal with Jesus show how they enact grace, community, hope, mission, salvation, and promise.
Moving from biblical times to the modern world, Chester applies biblical truth to challenge our contemporary understandings of hospitality. He urges sacrificial giving and loving around the table, helping readers consider how meals can be about serving others and sharing the grace of Christ.