What are you having for dinner tonight? Are you eating in or going out for dinner? Here is the US, we have so many options when it comes to meals. We can choose between Italian, or Chinese, or something more American like hot dogs and hamburgers. We can even get some of those foods delivered right to our door. Recently I also saw an ad for a company that will deliver all the fresh ingredients to you door and you just have to cook it up. We live in a country of convenience when it comes to our food at meal time. Most of us in the US, live to eat.
Food in poorer countries is very different from what we eat in the US. In Nepal, for example, they will eat the same thing for every meal. Rice and vegetables for every meal, every day. They might vary the vegetables that they serve but otherwise it is the same thing, every day. At our orphanage in Nepal, they will try to add a meat item once or twice a week depending on our funds. When we visit Nepal we try to take the children out to dinner for one meal so they get exposure to other types of food. A few years back we were able to buy them ice cream after dinner. It was a first for all the children. Our oldest orphan is 15 and she had never had ice cream. I do not think many American children could say that.
In some countries, the things they eat at meals are a little more interesting. In Kenya, we can have goat or we might get intestines with our meal, yum! On one occasion we were eating lunch at a local school we were visiting. We got chicken stew for our meal. As one of our group dipped their spoon in, they pulled out a whole chicken head with the beak and eyes. The host puts this in the stew to show that the chicken is fresh but it was still hard for us to swallow (pun intended). On another trip, the Kenyan ladies decided I needed a cooking lesson, so they taught me how to clean and braid intestines to prepare them for cooking. The best way to survive in these situations is just not to think about what you are doing or eating. It was fun to spend the time with the ladies and that is what really mattered.
Eating is also talked about in the Bible. We find the Jewish rules about eating in the Old Testament. We find items listed like milk, honey, dates and pomegranates. But I want to focus more on the food in the New Testament. I like to use the follower verse in mission training to remind our mission team to eat what is set before them;
Luke 10:7 “Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.”
This is so important to remember when you eat in someone’s home on a mission trip. The host of the meal may have spent almost all their money to provide a special meal for you or slaughtered their prized fatted calf just so you could eat. The host family may go hungry for weeks after you are gone because of the meal they served you. When you go on a mission trip, remember to eat what is put in front of you. And also remember to do so cheerfully!
Jesus also used food as part of His miracles. We find the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Mark.
Mark 6:41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.
Jesus understands our need for food and He also understands that to reach the heart of someone, you must first ensure that their belly is satisfied. Another time Jesus used food was in John 21. We find the disciples fishing to relax after Christ’s Crucifixion. They are not having any luck. Then someone on shore tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. They thought this man might be crazy but they tried it anyway and sure enough they caught tons of fish. Once they pulled in the nets, they realized who it was on the shore. Peter was so excited, he swam to shore to meet Jesus. Jesus had prepared a meal of fish for them all. Then the miracle happened starting in verse 15 of the passage:
15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
Do you see what Jesus did. Peter had denied Jesus three times at the cross. And now, here on the shore, Jesus allowed Peter the opportunity to respond three times to His question “Do you love me.” This question asked three times, allowed Peter to be restored in spirit so that he could go on to become the rock on which the church was built.
But of all the food in the Bible, the most important meal was the last supper that Jesus had with His disciples. In that final meal, Jesus provided us with this new covenant to help us always remember Him.
Matthew 26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
The next time you are taking communion at your own church, take a moment to remember what Christ has done for you. Remember the miracles He has done in your life. But also take a moment to remember those who struggle to get enough food to fill their bellies.
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”