This is the fourth post in my series, “Dining with Jesus.” In the first post, we answered whether the Kingdom of God is something we will experience in the future or a kingdom we are currently living in. In the second post, we looked at the feast that was thrown at Levi’s house when Jesus let the Pharisees know that it was those who were sick that needed a physician, not the people who are well. Jesus had come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
With last week’s post in this series, I discussed the meal that Simon held for Jesus. A woman that was well known as a sinner causes a disturbance, cleansing Jesus’ feet with her own tears and drying them with her hair. She then anoints the feet of Jesus with a flask of ointment. Jesus perceives what Simon is thinking and tells the woman her sins are forgiven because she has loved much.
The meal we are looking at this week is different. In both of the first two meals, Jesus was a guest at a feast thrown by someone else. Then, in Luke chapter 9:10-17, Jesus hosts the meal for those who have come to hear Him teach about the Kingdom of God and to be healed by the power of God. This needs our attention. When we look closely, there’s a sequence here that too quickly goes unnoticed.
With our first meal, Jesus invites someone to repent from their sin. With the second meal, following repentance, there is forgiveness. Those following Jesus experience reconciliation when the woman is forgiven for her sins. With this third meal, there is an advancement of the kingdom. Jesus’ disciples take the meal to those who have been drawn to Jesus. As a follower of Christ, through repentance, we are called to take place in this same series of events.
We start at the moment when we receive our salvation. We invite Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, our Savior. As we invite Jesus further into our lives, surrendering more and more of who we are to Him, we experience this same reconciliation. Our sins are forgiven. Through the Holy Spirit's work, the process of sanctification, we begin to act more like Jesus as we experience the forgiveness of our sins. Eventually, we grow close enough to Jesus that we desire to advance His kingdom ourselves. Let’s take a deeper look at each of these three steps.
A Call to Repentance
I think repentance is one of the most commonly misunderstood words for those new to following Jesus. For many, the word repentance sounds similar to failure. Because you are wrong or not good enough, you need to repent. The word is associated with discipline too much instead of love. We see the word repentance as a punishment instead of the loving hand of God.
Repentance is not a punishment. It is an invitation. Because of God’s great love for us, He invites us to repent of our sin, growing closer to Him in the process. Think about your childhood for a few seconds. Every one of us had a few rules we had to follow that we couldn’t stand.
These weren’t rules our parents established because they despised us and wanted to be mean. These were rules that were being enforced because our parents loved us. Because they were able to see through some things we were unable to understand at the time, they refused to let us do certain things because of our own well-being.
As a Christian, a child of God, we go through this same love, the love of a Father. Because He is able to see through situations and circumstances and knows what is best for the big picture, God has established specific rules for us to follow. Not because He wants to be mean and ruin the party, but because of His great love for us. He doesn’t push us out of the family when we make a mistake. Instead, we are invited to repent of our sins.
As we become more and more aware of God’s great love for us and begin living a life of daily repentance, we partake in the process of reconciliation. Just as we saw in last week’s post, we are forgiven for our sins. Now, be careful with this. This reconciliation isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card to be used over and over again. God’s grace isn’t an opportunity to continue living in sin. Instead, it’s an invitation to live more like Jesus in our daily lives.
According to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, reconciliation means, “Bringing together of two parties that are estranged or in dispute. Jesus Christ is the one who brings together God and man, with salvation as the result of the union.”
Before accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, every one of us are enemies of God. We are in dispute against Him, whether we want to admit it or not. Once we receive salvation through Jesus, we become children of God, heirs of His great family. Not only does God forgive us for our sins, but He also adopts us as His children, making us a part of His great family. When God the Father looks at us, He sees His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus’ righteousness is imputed onto us.
Expanding the Kingdom
From the meal we are looking at this week, Luke 9:10-17, one verse, in particular, grabbed my attention. Look at verse 9:13.
But he said to them, “You give them something to eat….”
The “he” mentioned here is Jesus. The “them” He is speaking to is the disciples. They have asked Jesus to send the crowd away because they don’t have food to eat. Jesus’ response is, “You give them something to eat.”
The disciples have what I want to call an evangelism happy meal. They have two fish and five loaves of bread, not nearly enough to feed the 5,000 men, plus women and children who have come to hear Jesus teach and be healed. Yes, Jesus is the one who gives the blessing and performs the miracle. Still, He has the disciples take the food to those who are in attendance. Jesus is the one who saves the day and gets all the glory. That being said, the disciples play a crucial role in making things happen.
The same is to be said of Jesus’ followers today. If Christ is the one thing that drives everything else in your life, once you encounter the great love of God, our only response is to share this love with others. We expand the Kingdom of God by taking His love and His message into the world.
The moment you have been rescued by what Jesus has accomplished on the cross, you become part of the rescue party. It is now both your blessing and your responsibility to point others towards the cross. This is how we go about enjoying a meal with Jesus. We carry the meal out into the world.