I don’t think I will ever look at a family feast or a church potluck the same way again.
From childhood on, I’ve always thought of birthday dinners or holiday meals or church potlucks as fun and fellowship—reasons to get together and enjoy some food and games. But now, I see a deeper meaning to these momentous occasions. Feasts are explosions of joy on the battlefield of good vs. evil.
The Feast of Good News
I heard Andrew Peterson recently recall a scene in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In that Narnian world blanketed by snow (where it is always winter and never Christmas), the White Witch comes upon a party in the woods, where she finds “decorations of holly” and “something like plum pudding.” A bunch of merry animals are enjoying a feast in celebration of a visit from Father Christmas, the return of Aslan, and the signal that winter will soon end. At once, the Witch demands the animals deny the good news, and when they refuse, she turns them into stone. The merry feast was to the evil witch a declaration of war.
When God’s people gather together and feast on the sumptuous foods prepared by loving hands—from the chili seasoned and stewed in our father’s crockpot to the casseroles baked to perfection in our grandmother’s oven—we are making a declaration.
No matter how awful the state of the world, how dire the darkness of our culture, we are the people of the Risen King. We believe evil will be defeated and good will triumph. Why? Because our Savior’s tomb is empty. How could we not gather and celebrate?
Feasting for Past and Future Joy
As Christians, we feast because of what happened in the past. We also feast because of what we believe will take place in the future. Isaiah prophesied:
On this mountain, the Lord of Armies will prepare for all the peoples a feast of choice meat, a feast with aged wine, prime cuts of choice meat, fine vintage wine. On this mountain he will destroy the burial shroud, the shroud over all the peoples, the sheet covering all the nations; he will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face and remove his people’s disgrace from the whole earth, for the Lord has spoken. (CSB)
And don’t forget the vision we find in Revelation 19:
Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying, Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, reigns! Let us be glad, rejoice, and give him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has prepared herself. (CSB)
There it is—the marriage supper of the lamb, but notice that this marriage comes within a passage about the armies arrayed against God and his people. The great banqueting table, set for God’s enemies-made-friends through the blood of Jesus, is the feast that celebrates God’s victory.
Jesus Came Eating and Drinking
It’s no wonder that at Jesus’s first coming, he came “eating and drinking” (Matthew 11:19) and sharing the table with sinners and Pharisees. He invited the sundry and the sullen, the prodigals and the older brothers—all who would come through the narrow door of repentance.
Andrew Wilson remarks: “No disciple would invent the charge that Jesus was a glutton and drunkard. That says something. God is happier than people think he should be.”
And that happiness is contagious. Easter morning overtakes Good Friday’s mourning. Whenever we eat together, we put a stake in the ground and make a declaration: The Lord of the resurrection is the Lord of the resurrection feast. When we gather, we demonstrate our faith that resurrection life will overcome death, that good will ultimately triumph over evil, that all of this world’s heartache is merely “the storm before the calm,” as Andrew Peterson sings.
Feasting and Evangelism
The Christian posture, then, should be one of welcome. Evangelism is calling people to pledge allegiance to the King and join his people at the table.
Kim Thomas’s book Potluck recalls the meals of her childhood, and how, as a kid, she sometimes “stared out the window at other neighborhood kids, wondering if they had potluck families to belong to.”
God, give us more potluck families! More meals around the dinner table! More times to bask in the presence of love! More memories that last!
We fight the battle of faith with more than our minds. We taste and see that the Lord is good, often while tasting the delights that come to us from his people. Feasting is an act of war.
“So draw up your battle lines,” Andrew Peterson says. “Gather around this table, raise a toast to the King and the coming kingdom, and fight back.”