Communing with Jesus over a meal is an important theme in the Bible. This past weekend, Pastor Bobby Chaw talked about three things that are offered to those who dine at the table of Jesus.
“The chief end for every man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” This quote from the Westminster Shorter Catechism was referred to by City Harvest Church’s senior pastor Kong Hee a few weeks ago, and it was reiterated by executive pastor Bobby Chaw this past weekend (Jan 23 and 24).
“It is our prayer that we will be so filled with the fullness of God, such that God’s image and glory can be manifested and reflected in us and through us,” said Pastor Bobby. “This was the testimony of the early disciples of Jesus.”
He was referring to Acts 4:13, where the people marvelled at the boldness of Peter and John, who they knew to be uneducated and untrained. Then, they realised that these men had been with Jesus.
“Transformation happened when the disciples were with Jesus,” said Pastor Bobby. “In fact, eating with Jesus is an important theme in the Bible.”
Revelations 3:20 reads, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
“In Bible times, there was great significance when someone sits at the same table or shares a roof with someone. The more you understand its significance, the stronger your faith and the deeper your love for Jesus will be,” said Pastor Bobby.
What happens when we dine with Jesus?
1. JESUS OFFERS PROTECTION
Firstly, when a person dines with Jesus, He offers him protection. According to custom, when a host invites a guest into his house, it is the host’s obligation and responsibility to protect him.
Genesis 19:1 demonstrates this custom clearly: Lot invited two guests into his house, not knowing that they were angels, and made them a feast. When the wicked turned up at his door demanding that he hand the strangers over, he protected them, even to the extent of sacrificing his own daughters.
“When Jesus invites you and me into His house to sit at His table, He is telling us that there is protection at His table,” the pastor preached.
Pastor Bobby also brought the church to Psalm 91:4 which reads, “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you shall take refuge.” The pastor explained that when a person comes under the shadow of God’s roof, he need not be afraid of terrors, attacks, pestilences or destruction, because His protection is upon him.
2. JESUS OFFERS RECONCILIATION
Luke 19 tells the story of Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector. Tax collectors were notorious for abusing and blackmailing people. In the eyes of the people, Zacchaeus was beyond help. However, Jesus insisted on staying at his house despite the disapproval of the people.
“Some people may not accept you; they may not be able to accept your failures, your quirks your mannerisms,” the pastor said. “This evening Jesus was saying to Zaccheus, ‘I want you. I want to stay at your house.’”
Pastor Bobby shared a story about a Jewish Christian named IIan Zamir whose car hit and killed a 13-year-old deaf Palestinian boy in an Arab village in Israel. Ilan sought the family’s forgiveness even though by cultural traditions, he could have been killed by the family for vengeance for their son’s death.
“The most amazing thing happened,” Pastor Bobby said. “The grieving family told Ilan this: My brother, you are welcomed in the place of our son, who has died. You have a family and a home somewhere else. But, we want you to know that there is always your second home.”
This is how God welcomes Christians into His house despite their sins and wrongdoings. Pastor Bobby drew parallels between Ilan’s experience with what God has done for His children.
3. JESUS OFFERS HEALING
In Luke 14:1-6, while Jesus was dining with the Pharisees, He healed a man who had dropsy even though he was fully aware that the Pharisees were trying to accuse Him of breaking the law.
“He was more concerned for the man’s healing and health than for His own comfort and protection,” noted Pastor Bobby. “Because when you choose to dine with Jesus, He invites you to come and eat with Him. He’s saying, ‘I will protect you. I want to be reconnected with you and I will heal you, at whatever cost. Even on the cross, even by the stripes that break my body, I will heal you’.”
He illustrated his point with a healing testimony of Ping Xing, the husband of a cell group leader in the Chinese Service. When Ping Xing suffered a life-endangering stroke, several members started praying fervently for him every day.
Pastor Bobby also prayed for him every morning. “Miraculously, on the third day, Ping Xing regained consciousness, his limbs started moving, and he could even eat and talk,” he reported.
“If you can come to the table of Jesus and spend time with Jesus, there is healing at the table of the Lord.” Pastor Bobby then encouraged the church to have a vision for healing–that the Lord will lead the sick to the right doctor and treatment, and when the people lay hands on the sick, the sick shall recover.
HOW DO WE DINE WITH JESUS?
Pastor Bobby gave the congregation three practical ways to dine with Jesus.
Firstly, John 14:23 highlights the importance of keeping His word. That is a requirement for those who want God to make His home in them. The pastor urged the church to pay careful attention to the Word, which means making time to read, study, meditate, memorise and obey the Word.
“We want to be doers and not just hearers of the Word. You have to be intentional, to make time for the Word of God,” he reminded the church. Pastor Bobby demonstrated how he would memorise scriptures so that he could pray according to the Word.
Secondly, Matthew 18:20 promises the presence of Jesus whenever two or three are gathered in His name. This applies to physical meetings, online meetings, church services, cell group Zoom meetings or small group fellowship.
“Jesus said, ‘I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens his door’ Notice, it says ‘anyone opens his door’. In other words, you have to do something. You have to open your door. The onus is on you,” Pastor Bobby emphasized.
“We appreciate the convenience. We want a convenient time and venue to pray, to study the Bible, to worship God. But when it comes to love, you cannot love out of convenience. Why? Because love involves effort. Consistency, determination, discipline. Love must be intentional. It cannot be random. You have to make an effort.”
Lastly, Hebrews 13:2-3 reminds Christians to love like Jesus, to show hospitality to strangers, just as Lot did, and to remember those suffering in prison.
“Children, let your parents know that they are not alone and that you will journey with them when they’re battling sickness and disease. Husband and wives, let your spouse know that you will always extend forgiveness, no matter what. Love unconditionally,” the pastor exhorted.
Pastor Bobby recalled a period when he opened up his home to a young SOT overseas alumnus named Andy for six-months. Andy got involved in drugs back in his home country and needed to break away from bad company. As he lived with Pastor Bobby and his family, they would dine together with him, encourage him and pray together with him those six months. There were inconveniences, but the pastor remembered Hebrews 13:2. Today, Andy is free from drugs and lives a victorious life. When a person loves like Jesus, others will experience the glory of God.
With the pandemic still affecting the economy, businesses and jobs, 2021 may not be the year of breakthrough that many are hoping for. But instead of wondering what lies ahead in 2021, Pastor Bobby encouraged the church to fix their eyes on Jesus and ask themselves, “Am I dining with Jesus?”
In closing, he prayed for the church to walk closer with Jesus this year.