Why Who We Eat With Matters

July 12, 2017

John 21:12-17

12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

“The cookie of Christ broken for you.”

I was in my first semester of seminary when my mentor and I were eating lunch together and he took his dessert, broke it in two, and gave me half with those words. In the moment I thought it was at least inappropriate, if not blasphemous. To compare the sacrament of Holy Communion to a chocolate chip cookie? But looking back, I can see it was a very “Biblical” thing to do.

Stick with me on this.

On Monday, I said that in this final chapter of John, Jesus was restoring Peter to his true vocation… and ours. How does he do this? By giving him breakfast, and then calling him to, “Feed my sheep.”

Now we need to remember that in the cultural reality of the Middle East – and by extension the Bible – is that to share a meal with someone is more than just good hospitably or fellowship. To break bread with someone is a public statement saying: You are of sacred value. You belong to me and I belong to you. You are now part of the family. We are one.

The most obvious examples are the Passover meal and the Lord’s Supper. But if we look throughout Scripture, we see this common theme: most often, when someone is sharing a meal, it is more than a meal. It is also a moment of forgiveness, reconciliation, and/or healing… in other words, good news is happening.

For example:

In Genesis 18, when the Lord appeared to Abraham with the promise that he would have a son, the first thing Abraham said was, “Hurry! Get three large measures of your best flour, knead it into dough, and bake some bread.” 7 Then Abraham ran out to the herd and chose a tender calf and gave it to his servant, who quickly prepared it. 8 When the food was ready, Abraham took some yogurt and milk and the roasted meat, and he served it to the men.”

Or in 2 Samuel 9, when King David calls for Mephibosheth, the grandson of Saul, who is crippled and living in exile. Mephibosheth shows up expecting to be killed, but David declares, “[You] will eat here with me at the king’s table!”

And again, when the Prodigal Son returns from his self-imposed sin exile in Luke 15, his father says, “[Kill] the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.”

It’s why the Pharisees were so upset when they said of Jesus in Mark 2, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Even the implications of Psalm 23 need to be reconsidered when the poet says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

Maybe because they needed kitchens instead of cathedrals and tables beyond temples, the first church in Acts 2, “… broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”

In fact, the very process of making a covenant involves a BBQ. Why? I believe it’s because the whole mess we’re in started in Eden when someone ate something… and it will end around the Heavenly Father’s banquet table.

So in today’s scene, when Jesus wants to forgive, reconcile, and make Peter whole, he gives him bread and fish and says, “Feed my sheep.” This Galilee version of a “Fish and Chips” breakfast echoes the feeding of the 5,000 in Matthew 14: “Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people.”

The four actions verbs Jesus does here are the same four he does with us: He takes us as his own, he blesses us, he breaks us, and then he gives us.

It’s why John Wesley said that, “every Christian should receive the Lord’s Supper as often as he can,” (not just once a month) because at the heart of the prayer… that is at the heart of the practice…  that is at the heart of our faith says: Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.

This is why every time we break bread (or a cookie) with someone, it becomes a Eucharist moment to share the good news: that they are of sacred value and are invited to be one with Christ.

This is why, regardless of our job we – like Peter – all have the same vocation: food. Because the meal is the mission.

So…who’s at your table, and when do we eat?


Heavenly Father, you gave us your Son as the bread of life and the cup of salvation. Pour out your Holy Spirit on us, that we may be taken by you, blessed by you, broken by you, and given for you. For the sake of the good news of Jesus Christ, in who’s name we prayer, amen.


1. What is your favorite meal? Why?

2. What has been the practice of Holy Communion in your church or in your life? How does this story influence this practice for you?

3. Who’s at your table? To whom do you need to extend an invitation?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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