Sunday, November 25, 2018

They Ate and Drank with Him

“God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”

Based on his personal experience, Peter could have finished this sentence any number of impressive ways. He could have said, “God made him appear to us ... who saw with our own eyes the rolled-back stone and the empty tomb,” or “... who witnessed him perform miracles,” or “... who were shown the marks of his crucifixion in his hands and his side,” or even “... who saw him taken bodily into heaven and heard the testimony of angels about it.”

Instead, he talks about sharing food with the risen Christ: “God made him appear to us who ate and drank with him.”

Bread and Fish

I’ve had some spectacular meals in my life, but in and of itself there is nothing out of the ordinary about the act of eating or drinking. There was nothing remarkable about a breakfast of bread and fish on a Galilean beach, or sharing a loaf at dinner time with one’s traveling companions.

When Peter says “We ate and drank with him,” I don’t think he’s referring to the Luke 24 story in which Jesus asks the incredulous disciples “Have you anything here to eat?” and then goes on to demonstrate that he is not merely a spirit by consuming a piece of broiled fish in front of them. In this case Jesus certainly ate, but it is not at all obvious his disciples did. Luke 24 is about providing proof, not sharing a meal. However, when Peter speaks of eating and drinking, he is not concerned so much with the evidentiary value of his Lord’s appearances as he is with the acts of fellowship in which the risen Christ engaged with his disciples. They did not just observe him eating and note it for posterity, they ate and drank with him.

A Unique Privilege

This was a unique position of privilege. Not everybody got to enjoy it. Those who did were “chosen by God”. Their shared meals called to memory the unprecedented intimacy of the upper room. Their purpose had nothing to do with convincing the world and everything to do with equipping the witnesses. One such meal capped a day of heavy scriptural exposition and another preceded a personal and very necessary word of exhortation to Peter.

The disciples God sent out into the world as his witnesses in the first century were those who ate and drank with the risen Christ. Nothing less could prepare them for public resistance they would face. Nothing less could fortify them against the repeated predations of Satan. Nothing else could enable them to overcome their own natural failings. Like Peter, we are often our own worst enemies.

They ate and drank with him. In a day in which increasing numbers of men and women who take the name of Jesus no longer choose to meet regularly to remember him as he commanded, it is impossible to over-stress the importance of this fact.

Do this in remembrance of me.

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