In John Mark Hicks’ book, Enter the Water, Come to the Table, he rightly identifies the importance of Jesus’ life and ministry and how the gospel writers liken both to the Exodus event. When Jesus was born, his family was forced to flee to Egypt. Through the Father’s grace and intervention, he led Jesus up out of Egypt and back into the promised land. Like Moses who spent 40 days and nights on Sinai without food or water, Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness. The gospel writers, and Luke especially, record Jesus’ “table ministry” and link these meals both to the Exodus event and to the Last Supper.
The feeding of the 5,000, the Last Supper, and the Sunday meal where the risen Jesus presents himself as the Christ are all linked in content and form. Jesus is host of both the feeding of the 5,000 and the Last Supper. As when God miraculously provided food for the Israelites in the wilderness, Jesus miraculously provided food for the 5,000. Luke clearly links all three meals together when he repeats the liturgical message, “Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it” (page 49).
In these meals, Jesus welcomes the crowds, feeds them, and proclaims the kingdom of heaven. Hicks says, “At table, Jesus receives sinners and confronts the righteous. At table, Jesus extends grace to seekers but condemns the self-righteous. Jesus eats with ‘others’ to introduce them to the kingdom. . . The table is missional, communal, and hospitable” (page 48).
Jesus is still present at his table, and he longs to recline with us as we participate and remember: “And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer'” (Luke 22:14-15).