Meals As Enacted Grace by Tim Chester
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1. Write a list of your favourite food.
2. Who are the people you enjoy having your meals with? Give a few reasons why.
3. Apart from meals being a source of nourishment, what does having shared meal mean to you?
It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of table fellowship for the cultures of the Mediterranean basin in the first century of our era. Mealtimes were far more than occasions for individuals to consume nourishment. Being welcomed at a table for the purpose of eating food with another person had become a ceremony richly symbolic of friendship, intimacy and unity. Thus betrayal or unfaithfulness toward anyone with whom one had shared the table was viewed as particularly reprehensible. On the other hand, when persons were estranged, a meal invitation opened the way to reconciliation.
(Page 19, A Meal With Jesus)
Investigating and Applying the Text…
Read Luke 5:27-32
1. Imagine for a moment that you are Levi, the tax collector, and Jesus asks you to follow him. He is even willing to dine with you. Describe your feelings at that moment.
2. What is the significance of Jesus sharing a meal with Levi?
Answer: Jesus was extending his friendship to an unworthy sinner and despised tax collector like Levi. He was showing his grace of abundant forgiveness and love to Levi through a shared meal.
3. Have you received Jesus for a shared meal like Levi did? Have you received him as your Lord and Saviour?
4. In verse 28, we see that Levi left everything to follow Jesus. Would you be willing to do the same? How much are you actually willing to give up in following Jesus?
5. Why do you think the Pharisees and their scribes were unhappy about Jesus feasting with Levi, the Tax Collector?
Answer: Tax collectors were social outcasts who commonly used their position to cheat people. But there is more to their story. They were collaborators. They were working for the enemy. But there’s more to it even than that. The Jews were looking for the day when God would defeat the Romans and re-establish his kingdom. So it wasn’t just Jews verses Romans, it was God verses Romans. And the tax collectors had opted for the Romans. They were traitors to the nation and they were traitors to God. They were God’s enemies. Such table fellowship implies welcoming ‘unworthy sinners’, like Levi, into extended interpersonal association, which the Pharisees thought would make a person ‘unclean’.
6. How would you describe the attitude of the Pharisees and their scribes?
Answer: Prideful, self righteous and condescending.
7. We might regard the Pharisees as arrogant and self righteous.
a. But in what ways are we tempted to feel superior about our good works?
b. Do we have a tendency to shy away and look down on social outcasts or people who do not match up to our standards of righteousness?
8. For verses 31-32, explain in your own words what you think Jesus’ reply means.
Answer: In verses 31-32, Jesus talked about the calling of sinners, not the righteous, to repentance and about the sick, not the well, who are in need of a doctor. The truth is the ‘righteous’ people that Jesus referred to were in actual fact not righteous at all but they were self righteous. Every human is born a sinner and is in need of Jesus, the gracious physician, who is the only one able to cure the problem of sin.
In light of what we have learnt, we can see two responses to Jesus:-
a. Rejecting God’s grace to save but relying on works and self-righteousness like the Pharisees foolishly did.
b. Accepting God’s grace and forgiveness for sin like Levi humbly did.
9. How have you responded to Jesus?
P/S: If you are interested in this Bible study material, please contact me via the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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