Monday, February 3, 2014

Sully Notes 3 | A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community and Mission Around the Table Part 1 of 3

Sully Notes A Meal with Jesus Tim Chester Missional Community Emmaus City Church Worcester MA


Sully Notes 3: Books in 25 minutes or less

Sully Notes are more than a book review. They are meant to provide you with direct quotes from some books I've read in the last year, so you can get a taste of the overall theme of the book and then begin to chew on what your life might look like if you applied what you read.

Here are links to the previous Sully Notes books:

Sully Notes 3 A Meal with Jesus Tim Chester Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Missional CommunityThis week's Notes begin with Part 1 of Tim Chester's A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community and Mission Around the Table. This book opened my eyes to the amazing example of how Jesus connected with people while He was on earth. The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost by serving them and giving His life for them. And the way that He showed this was true? By joining with them around the table. For all the ways we try to share the gospel with people, simply having them into our home for a meal could be the most dynamic and loving way to display and declare the gospel. Why? That's what God did through Jesus during His time with others.

A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community and Mission Around the Table | Sully Notes 3: Part 1 of 3 

Introduction: The Son of Man Came Eating and Drinking

"There are three ways the New Testament completes the sentence, 'The Son of Man came…' 'The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many' (Mark 10:45); 'The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost' (Luke 19:10); 'The Son of Man has come eating and drinking …' (Luke 7:34). The first two are statements of purpose. Why did Jesus come? He came to serve, to give his life as a ransom, to see and save the lost. The third is a statement of method. How did Jesus come? He came eating and drinking." – pg. 12

"Jesus spent his time eating and drinking – a lot of his time. … His mission strategy was a long meal, stretching into the evening. He did evangelism and discipleship round a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine. Luke’s Gospel is full of stories of Jesus eating with people: 

  1. In Luke 5 Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi. 
  2. In Luke 7 Jesus is anointed at the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal. 
  3. In Luke 9 Jesus feeds the five thousand. 
  4. In Luke 10 Jesus eats in the home of Martha and Mary. 
  5. In Luke 11 Jesus condemns the Pharisees and teachers of the law at a meal. 
  6. In Luke 14 Jesus is at a meal when he urges people to invite the poor to their meals rather than their friends. 
  7. In Luke 19 Jesus invites himself to dinner with Zacchaeus.
  8. In Luke 22 we have the account of the Last Supper. 
  9. 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. 
Robert Karris concludes: 'In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal.'" – pg. 13

" … 'people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at the table in the kingdom of God' (see Luke 13:22-30). In Luke 22 Jesus tells his disciples: 'I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom …' (vv. 29-30). Food is used to describe salvation and judgment (1:53; 6:21, 25), and people are described in terms of good food and bad food (3:17; 6:43-46; 12:1). Jesus is called 'a glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' This is why eating and drinking were so important in the mission of Jesus: they were a sign of his friendship with tax collectors and sinners. His 'excess' of food and 'excess' of grace are linked. In the ministry of Jesus, meals were enacted grace, community, and mission." – pg. 14

“Peter Leithart says: ‘For Jesus 'feast' was not just a 'metaphor' for the kingdom. As Jesus announced the feast of the kingdom, He also brought it into reality through His own feasting. Unlike many theologians, He did not come preaching an ideology, promoting ideas, or teaching moral maxims. He came teaching about the feast of the kingdom, and He came feasting in the kingdom. Jesus did not go around merely talking about eating and drinking; he went around eating and drinking. A lot.'" – pg. 15

Chapter 1 | Meals as Enacted Grace: Luke 5  

" … 'Any apostolic church that derives its nature from the apostolic (or sending) character of God has no option but to face its mission to the non-churched, even if this is at the cost of finding new ways of being and doing church to exist alongside what we do and are at present. The task is to become church for them, among them and with them, and under the Spirit of God to lead them to become church in their own cultur'’ (Mission-Shaped Church: Church Planting and Fresh Expressions of Church in a Changing Context by Philip Richter and Leslie Francis). … We cannot claim to be faithfully proclaiming the gospel to the lost through our Sunday preaching when most of the lost do not attend church. We need to do mission outside church and church events. … We cannot assume people will come to us. We must go to them. We need to do church and mission in the context of everyday life. We can no longer think of church as a meeting on a Sunday morning. We must think of church as a community of people who share life, ordinary life. …" – pg. 22

"Today’s Pharisees might condemn the poor for their dysfunctional families, but lift not one finger to help. Today’s Pharisees might condemn the poor for their excessive drinking, but lift not one finger to ease their pain. Today’s Pharisees might condemn the poor for their laziness, but lift not one finger to provide employment. Today’s Pharisees might condemn the poor for their abortions, but lift not one finger to adopt unwanted children. I’m not defending dysfunctional families, drunkenness, and so on. But we can’t condemn these things at a distance. That’s legalism. We must come alongside, proclaiming and demonstrating the transforming grace of God. ... Jesus is handing out God’s party invitations. They read: 'You’re invited to my party in the new creation. Come as you are.' The religious leaders agreed there was a party and an invitation and even that it was possible to attend. But when the religious leaders passed out the invitation, they didn’t say, 'Come as you are.' They said, 'You’ve got to get changed; you’ve got to get cleaned up.' As a result people didn’t come, because they didn’t think they were good enough. This is how the Pharisees took away the key of knowledge." – pgs. 22-23

"In Luke 5:12-15, Jesus touches a leper. Normally if you did that, you became unclean. But instead of Jesus becoming unclean, the leper becomes clean. This is God’s grace in action. God’s grace welcomes the outcast and brings transformation. Suddenly it isn’t uncleanness that’s contagious … with Jesus it’s his holiness that’s contagious. ... We can’t do our work of pointing sinners to the Savior unless we spend time with them. The first thing Levi does after following Jesus is to throw a party. Maybe like Levi you introduced Jesus to your friends when you first became a Christian. But after a while you lost contact with those friends. Perhaps the church schedule left little time. Perhaps your new behavior made it hard to hang out with old friends. Perhaps you were warned of the influence they might have on you. But those who avoid the contamination of sinners are like the Pharisees. Those who earn the label ‘friend of sinners’ are like their Savior." – pgs. 25, 27

"I sometimes look around my congregation and see a bunch of dysfunctional people thrown together, somehow managing to be a family. And I smile at the ridiculous grace of God. … Jesus has come for losers, people on the margins, people who’ve made a mess of their lives, people who are ordinary. Jesus has come for you. The only people left out are those who think they don’t need God: the self-righteous and the self-important." – pgs. 29-30

"Jesus himself eats with tax collectors and sinners, but he also eats with Pharisees (Luke 7, 11, 14). Jesus 'is not self-righteous about self-righteousness.' The older brother is missing the party because he won’t let go of the claims he thinks he has on his father. The story ends unresolved. Will he go in or not? We don’t know. We’re left asking the question. And as we ask it of the older brother, we inevitably as it of ourselves. Would I have gone in? How do I feel about God’s extravagant grace?" – pgs. 31-32

"As we look further at the meals of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel, we will discover: 

  1. how God graciously includes those the world excludes;
  2. God’s promise of an eternal banquet in a new creation;
  3. how we reflect God’s welcome of us in the way we welcome others; 
  4. how Jesus opens up the banquet through his death and resurrection; 
  5. how the gracious invitation of God comes to us in the Word of God; 
  6. how meals express grace, community, and mission." – pg. 32

Chapter 2 | Meals as Enacted Community: Luke 7

"(from Luke 7:36-39) … this woman treats Jesus with a shocking degree of intimacy. This is not appropriate public behavior. She lets down her hair to wipe her tears from Jesus’s feet. In that culture, letting down your hair was what you did in the bedroom. … But Jesus doesn’t stop her. He could have said, 'I appreciate what you’re doing, but it’s not really appropriate behavior.' He does nothing. As New Testament scholar John Nolland puts its: 'Jesus’ passivity in the face of this behavior is extremely eloquent.' … Jesus doesn’t stop her, even though his reputation is at stake. … Jesus is happy to link his identity to hers – just as he is happy to link his identity to yours and mine. Just before this story Luke recounts the accusation that Jesus is 'a friend of sinners.' How is Luke going to defend Jesus against this accusation? He doesn’t. In fact he tells a story that shows that it’s true. Jesus is the friend of sinners. He links his identity to ours to reveal himself as the gracious Savior. He comes 'eating and drinking' to show that sinners can be part of his kingdom. The glorious Son of Man described in Daniel 7 is the gracious dinner companion of Luke 7." – pgs. 39-40

"Luke seems to pick stories involving tax collectors and prostitutes. They exemplify notorious sinners. It’s as if he’s testing us. Have we grasped God’s grace? How do we react when a promiscuous woman kisses the body of Jesus? Do we celebrate God’s grace, or are we scandalized? The grace of God turns out to be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Jesus is socially disruptive; his radical grace disrupts social situations. And we don’t like church to be disrupted. We regard marginalized people in the church as 'a problem' to be 'handled.' Involvement with people, especially the marginalized, begins with a profound grasp of God’s grace. Often our instincts are to keep our distance. But the Son of God ate with them. He’s not embarrassed by them. He lets them kiss his feet. He’s the friend of riffraff, traitors, the unrespectable, drunks, druggies, prostitutes, the mentally ill, the broken, and the needy – people whose lives are a mess. Ultimately, Jesus gave his life for them." – pgs. 40-41

"Luke writes, 'He (Simon) said to himself … And Jesus answering said to him…' Jesus replies to Simon’s thoughts as if he had spoken them aloud. But the real shock is this: Jesus sees the heart of this woman and he sees the heart of Simon – and he’s more disgusted by what he sees in Simon’s heart than by what he sees in the woman’s heart. Simon’s attitude to this woman exposes his heart. It’s always like that. Problem people, difficult people, different people have a habit of exposing our hearts. Behavior always comes from the desires of the heart – Jesus says as much in the previous chapter (Luke 6:43-45). When a fellow ministry leader and I faced a difficult situation, he said, 'What I find most disappointing is what it has revealed about my own heart. It’s shown me again that I still need people’s approval, because I fear them more than I fear God.' When someone is difficult, disappointing, or disrespectful, your reaction reveals your own heart. If you react with anger or bitterness, then your 'need' for control or respect or success is exposed. If you’re trusting God’s sovereignty rather than your own abilities, and if you’re concerned for God’s glory rather than your own reputation, then it will be a different story. When you discover that someone in your church has fallen into sin, your own heart will be exposed. You may discover grace in your heart from God. But you may also discover pride and self-righteousness … Involvement with people, especially the marginalized, must begin with a sense of God’s grace. But not just God’s grace to them, but his grace to me. I need to be melted and broken by grace." – pgs. 44-45

"Generous hospitality leads to reconciliation. It expresses forgiveness. Unresolved conflict can’t be ignored when we gather round the meal table; you can’t eat in silence without realizing there’s an issue to address. Paul uses hospitality as a metaphor for reconciliation when he says to the Corinthians: 'Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one …' (2 Cor. 7:2) … Bonhoeffer says, 'Christian community is not an ideal we have to realize, but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.' So 'we enter into that life together with other Christians, not as those who make demands, but as those who thankfully receive … We do not complain about what God does not give us; rather we are thankful for what God does give us daily.' … Hospitality will lead to 'collateral damage.' Food will be spilled on your carpet. You’ll be left with cleaning up. Your pantry may be decimated. But remember that God is welcoming you into his home through the blood of his Son. The hospitality of God embodied in the table fellowship of Jesus is a celebration and sign of his grace and generosity. And we’re to imitate that generosity. Meals also have the power to shape and reshape community. A person to whom we may have related in one role becomes a person to whom we relate as a friend. Serving another changes the dynamics of a relationship." – pgs. 48-49

"Consider that many requirements churches typically have for leaders (like a seminary degree) are not required by Paul in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. But what he does require is that they be hospitable. Perhaps this was because church meetings were family meals. How could you lead a meal-meeting if you weren’t hospitable? How could you extend the generous welcome of the gospel if you didn’t welcome people into your home? The meetings of the apostolic churches were shared meals. It’s not that they sometimes had a church lunch, or that they had some food before or after their meetings. Their meetings were meals. The second-century theologian Tertullian describes a church gathering: "Our feast explains itself by its name. The Greek call it agape, i.e. affection. Whatever it costs, our outlay in the name of piety is gain, since with the good things of the feast we benefit the needy. … The participants, before reclining, taste first of prayer to God. As much is eaten as satisfies the cravings of hunger; as much is drunk as befits the chaste. … After manual ablution, and the bringing in of lights, each is asked to stand forth an sing, as he can, a hymn to God, either one from the holy Scriptures or one of his own composing. … As the feast commenced with prayer, so with prayer it is closed.'" – pg. 51

"Our meals expose our doctrine of justification. It’s possible to articulate an orthodox theology of justification by faith, but communicate through your meals a doctrine of justification by works." – pg. 53

Next post: A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community and Mission Around the Table | Sully Notes 3: Part 2 of 3

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