Luke’s Gospel is filled with eating. There are 19 meals in Luke, 13 of which are unique to his account. If you love to eat, Luke is your Gospel!
Meals are occasions for Kingdom dynamics, for the experience of redemptive realities.
They are occasions for healing and hospitality (9:10-17; 10:5-7) for fellowship and celebration (13:29), for worshiping Jesus and receiving forgiveness (7:36-50), for prophetic confrontation (11:37-54), and for reconciliation and the celebration of redemption (15:6, 9, 23-24).
Luke closes his Gospel with one final meal, the climax of a fascinating episode on the road to Emmaus (24:13-35).
“Supper at Emmaus,” Caravaggio
Jesus’ identity is hidden from these two disciples as they travel along the road. When they stop for the night and sit down to eat, “their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight” (v. 31).
The two disciples immediately take off for Jerusalem to tell “the eleven” what had happened:
Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread (v. 35).
They don’t remark about Jesus’ amazing lecture or his miraculous disappearance. They note their recognition of Jesus when they ate.
At the dramatic conclusion of his meal-filled Gospel, then, Luke emphasizes twice that the disciples recognize Jesus’ life-giving presence in the sharing of the meal.
Luke uses meals as a metaphor for church life. The patterns of life and the community dynamics that should characterize God’s people are the things that take place at meals in the Gospel of Luke.
And when the church gathers and shares life together, Jesus is present.
Luke’s meals put the question to contemporary churches: Do your church’s corporate dynamics resemble a celebratory meal? Do the habits and practices of your community bring about mutual refreshment and communal celebration?
When your church gathers, do disciples recognize the presence of Jesus?