On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. 7 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8 he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. Isaiah 25:6-8
Food is central to who we are as human beings. We quite literally can’t live without it. There are very few things that I enjoy more than a good meal with great friends. However, because of the fractured nature of our universe, we have a distorted relationship with food. Food is great, but we struggle with overeating and eating things that aren’t good for us. There are some around the world who have more than enough food and there are others who struggle to get their daily bread. Americans spend 50 million dollars annually on diets and roughly 30 million Americans struggle with eating disorders. To say that we have a complicated relationship with food is an understatement.
However, food isn’t just a part of being human, it’s a central part of the story God is telling. Think about it: things go wrong in the garden around food when Adam and Eve eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3). Then, the symbol of Jesus making the world right is the Eucharist meal (Luke 22). Finally, the culmination of God’s restoration of his world is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19). Food is central to the metanarrative of scripture; it weaves its way all throughout the scriptures.
But, as the scriptures show us, the significance of food transcends beyond the acts of eating. One of the most common metaphors used to describe the kingdom of God is that of a feast. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament talk of God’s coming reign as though it’s a feast. In one of Jesus’ most prolific parables (The Prodigal Son in Luke 15), he ends with the picture of his Father’s kingdom being a party. The people were dressed to the nines, the fattened calf has been killed, music was blaring, and there was a whole village getting after it on the dance floor. This is what the kingdom of God is like! Not only is God hospitable, he is over-the-top lavish in his welcome and provision towards his people.
Food has been a part of God’s story from the very beginning and it will be a part of it even after the resurrection. We will eat with our resurrected bodies – Jesus did (Luke 24:42-43)! Maybe we should read the Psalmist’s invitation to “taste and see that the Lord is good” more literally. Food is a central part of hospitality because it’s a major way we see God’s goodness and enjoy relationships with each other.
As you think about this Won’t You Be My Neighbor? series, what’s one thing that has stood out to you? How has your approach to being neighborly changed and how have you felt challenged by God?
By Ryan Paulson