“Come and get it!” her voice rang out. Each of those words seemed to meet the air amplifying and increasing in volume. She sounded the “food alarm” by hitting the metal triangle with a quick rhythmic motion, evidence of a daily practice. Everyone responded to her voice in a uniformed manner: plates in hands as they began to line up. Passing by all the delicious foods and assortment of recipes, soon each plate began to be piled up with food.
Each person went through the food line and then headed for the tables to eat and visit.
What is it about food, tables and people that bring about some form of unity and harmony of those involved? If one would study the cultural history of the table and the purpose of gathering together to eat, one would find many similarities of our current culture today.
Eating at the table together can fade boundaries on a variety of levels including ethnicities, nations and languages bringing a common ground to everything. Food has a way of doing that.We learn from the ceremony of the table and the traditions of eating there are two qualifications of going to the table to eat are:
One: You must be invited.
Two: You must be in need of nourishment (i.e. food)
Just like this lady who sounded the dinner bell to let everyone know it was time to come and eat, Jesus also sounds His alarm beckoning others to come and eat and fellowship with Him. This lady called and offered food that will only last for a short time. But Jesus offers food that will last for eternity.
In the Old Testament is where we first hear of the sound of Jesus’ voice ringing out with an increase of volume, letting everyone know that now is the time to gather the plates, go to the food line and then sit down at the table to fellowship with Him and eat. We first hear of Jesus through Isaiah.
Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet, was also known as the evangelical prophet. Isaiah’s name means Jehovah has saved, Yahweh is salvation. In the late 600s to 700s, Isaiah went about “clanging his triangle” — amplifying and increasing his voice, inviting people to come to the table. Come to the table to eat and come to the table to fellowship.
In Isaiah chapter 55, he says “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come; buy wine and milk without money and without price.
“Incline your ear, and come to me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you — The sure mercies of David.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”
Jumping ahead to the New Testament, it is not a coincidence that Jesus the Son of God was the son of a carpenter. In the gospel of Mark chapter 6 and Matthew chapter 13, it gives an interlude of the possible first encounter Jesus had with tables. As a son of a carpenter, and considering the culture and times, it is highly likely that Jesus actually made tables. The very tool that was so used and symbolic of His future ministry of calling others to come to the table.
Once Jesus began his three-year public ministry, He went about calling others to come to the table, eat spiritual food and fellowship with Him. Many responded to that call and many did not.
In the gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, the story unfolds of the parable of the 10 virgins.
Five of them were wise and responded to the call of coming to the table to fellowship with Jesus. The other five were foolish and not only did they not respond, but they did not even come prepared for the feast. Some of them heeded the call and some of them didn’t.
The two men walking along a road in the gospel of Luke chapter 24, desperately wanting to learn more of Jesus, invited Him to come and eat with them. He did. Then Jesus called them to come to the table to eat and fellowship with Him and they did.
Many invitations were sent out to an elaborate feast fit for a king, but those who were invited refused to come to the table. Instead, they went back to their farms and businesses ignoring the invitation. The gospel of Matthew chapter 22 then tells us that instead of the original invitees attending this feast, new invitees from the streets came. The poor, broken dirty and the maimed were all invited to come and they came with joy. This latter group heard the call and came to the table.
Likewise, those in the regional areas of Samaria and Galilee (formerly known as the Northern Kingdom if Israel) heard and then promptly came to the table after Jesus proclaimed and made the call to come. In the gospel of John chapter 4: verse 35-49 both of these groups also had an opportunity to eat of the same table and they eagerly came with plate lining up in unison.
At the end of His three-year ministry, Jesus gathers his disciples once again by saying come to the table. Jesus reassures us of His faithful promise of eating with those who believe once again in heaven. Gospel of John chapter 13 gives us a wonderful beautiful model for the communion where people and churches everywhere celebrate remembering Jesus then and remembering Him in the future.
Praise be to His holy, majestic and merciful name!
So I want to ask you:
• Will you come to the table or will you ignore the invitation?
• Will you accept His invitation and come?
• Will you eat freely with joy?
• Will you share with others that they can come to the table also? It is open to all to come.
About the author
Simone Lake is a full-time minister and serves in the areas of international Bible teacher, speaker, missionary, mentor, chaplain and author. She holds a master’s degree in theology and attends Church on Randall Place where she serves in various capacities alongside her husband, Pastor John Lake.
Read more about her current Bible studies, speaking engagements and upcoming events at: www.simonelake.com.