Never Eat Alone: A Lesson From the Meals of Jesus

Never Eat Alone: A Lesson From the Meals of Jesus August 15, 2018

As far as we can tell from the gospels, meals were extremely important to Jesus. He rarely ate alone. We often rush through our meal times not thinking about the opportunities we have to truly get to know someone or let someone get to know us. Food is the great equalizer. It levels the playing field. It disarms any inhibitions or fears. And food has a way of cultivating love and harmony.

Two eggs. I know it seems kind’ve strange, but two eggs showed something about my heart I had suspected for sometime — I’m selfish.

Here’s the story:

On a typical day after waking up, I’ll go for a walk, and my walk is about two miles long. I spend most of the walk praying and planning out the day. One particular day, while I was on my walk I became hungry, and all I could think of was eggs and corn tortillas.

people laughing and sharing a meal together
HERE’S THE STORY… On a typical day after waking up, I go for a walk. My walk is about two miles long, and I spend most of the walk praying and planning out the day. One particular day, while I was on my walk I became hungry, and all I could think of was eggs and corn tortillas.

Upon opening the refrigerator, I saw there were only two eggs, but no corn tortillas. I admit I became agitated because there were no tortillas. After mumbling to myself, it hit me — there wasn’t enough eggs to feed everyone. And I became even more agitated.

So I did what comes natural — I started preparations to make the eggs for myself. If I hurried, I could cook the two eggs and eat them before anyone became aware of what had happened.

BOX OF WAFFLE MIX.

As I reached into the cupboard for the cooking oil, my hand wrapped around a box of waffle mix. I’m a sucker for waffles, with berries and honey.

The recipe calls for two eggs. I stood there for several minutes trying to talk myself out of sacrificing my two eggs to the waffle mix. It was one of those me-against-them inner dialogue conversations.

breakfast food: waffles with berries and syrup
We often rush through our meal times not thinking about the opportunities we have to truly get to know someone or let someone get to know us. Food is the great equalizer. It levels the playing field. It disarms any inhibitions or fears. And food has a way of cultivating love and harmony.

I became overwhelmed with conviction — making waffles for my family needed to happen. And it was the right decision — we sat down and shared a meal together.

We were full; with not only a delicious meal of waffles, berries, and honey — but also with the deep meaningful conversations that came out of us eating together.

The alternative would have been eating two eggs by myself in a secretive frenzy before anyone else got out of bed.

When everyone finished and the dishes and leftovers were cleaned up, I lamented my selfishness for wanting to eat alone.

That’s when I remembered the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand with the loaves and fish. Jesus had compassion on them — he didn’t want to send them away to find food for themselves.

Jesus had the multitudes of people stick around so they could share a meal. He took five loaves of bread and two fish and fed thousands of people.
It hit me how important meals were to Jesus. If you look at the gospels, you’ll find Jesus preferred to never eat alone, and because of this Jesus influenced a multitude of people. Some of the most significant events in Jesus life centered on people and meals.

Let’s take a quick look at nine meals of Jesus found in Luke’s gospel — in Luke’s Gospel Jesus is going to a meal, at a meal or coming from a meal.

Nine Meals of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel (Eating Your Way Through Luke’s Gospel by Robert Karris):
  • In Luke 5 Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi.
  • In Luke 7 Jesus is anointed at the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal.
  • In Luke 9 Jesus feeds the five thousand.
  • In Luke 10 Jesus eats in the home of Martha and Mary.
  • In Luke 11 Jesus condemns the Pharisees and teachers of the law at a meal.
  • In Luke 14 Jesus is at a meal when he urges people to invite the poor
    to their meals rather than their friends.
  • In Luke 19 Jesus invites himself to dinner with Zacchaeus.
  • In Luke 22 we have the account of the Last Supper.
  • In Luke 24 the risen Christ has a meal with the two disciples in
    Emmaus, and then later eats fish with the disciples in Jerusalem

We can learn an important lesson about the meals of Jesus—of course there are is more than one lesson to learn from the meals of Jesus, but for the sake of this article I’d like to highlight one for you.

man eating alone
When given the opportunity always choose to never eat alone. Meals are always better over conversation with family, friends — even strangers.

NEVER EAT ALONE.

For some people, eating is a necessary task to do — something to get out of the way. Don’t treat eating food as a checklist—look at it more like an event or celebration.

Meals are more than just sustenance for the physical body it’s also sustenance for the soul.

When given the opportunity share a meal with someone—never eat alone. Meals are always better over conversation with family, friends — even strangers.

Some of the most influential and transparent conversations you will engage in will be over share a meal with someone.

This is true if you have children and teenagers in your house. Some of the most transformative conversations my wife and I had with our three kids was at dinner time.

My kids are all in their early to mid twenties now so we don’t always know what’s going on in each other’s lives, but when we can eat a meal together we share the latest news from each of our lives. We become open books and share the mundane, the hidden, the frivolous and everything else.

People influence people.

If you want to influence someone’s life — you need to spend time with them. I’ve found some of the most life changing conversations I’ve had was over a meal — I became more receptive to hearing advice while eating a slice of pizza.

Food has a way of letting people feel it’s okay to let their guard down — they become more open and more receptive. Food can disarm even to the most sensitive and closed-off of people.

Here’s the thing. If you want to be more intentional with people, you will need to put aside selfish desires and put others first. You will need to clear your calendars, make space for people, and be present — you will need to learn to say no, so you can say yes.

I am thankful for everyone who took the time to invest in my life —people who decided sharing a meal with me was worth it. They have helped me love Jesus and love like him . I am a better person because of them. And I am also grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to invest in other people—I hope I can make a difference in their lives.

A lesson well learned from the meals of Jesus is if you want a way to speak into a person’s heart—never eat alone if you can help it

Funny thing about those meals and conversations — I don’t remember the physical food I ate to fill my stomach, but I remember the spiritual food I ate for my soul.
About Joe Puentes
Joe is a follower of Jesus, ragamuffin, sojourner, writer, speaker, entrepreneur, husband, dad and heart attack survivor. He is also a former pastor of twenty years. Joe has served as a youth pastor and lead pastor in churches of various sizes: mega, medium and small size churches—from a church plant, to an established church, a 100-plus year old church and to a restart church. You can find him writing here at Patheos and at joepuenteswrites.com and follow him on Twitter @joepuentes. You can read more about the author here.
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