June 13, 2024

With Holy Week and the Easter season having recently ended, many families, friends and church congregations gathered together to celebrate. Egg hunts, Easter baskets and family meals often characterize Resurrection Sunday. Not only are shared meals during Holy Week significant to the modern-day Christian family, but also to the ancient Passover story, the life and ministry of Jesus and his final days.

The History Channel’s Easter 2024 article shared some of the history and background of Easter from a secular and religious perspective.

Easter is closely tied to the Jewish Passover celebration, a celebration dating back to Exodus when the Jews fled slavery in Egypt. God executed his wrath on all of Egypt, sparing the Jewish families who had covered their doorposts with the blood of a lamb. This event is celebrated today, thousands of years later with a Passover feast.  

According to the History Channel, “These links are clearly seen in the Last Supper, which occurred the night before Jesus’ arrest and the sufferings Jesus endured following his arrest. The Last Supper was essentially a Passover feast. However, the New Testament describes it as being given new significance by Jesus: He identified the matzah (or bread) he shared with his 12 apostles as his ‘body’ and the cup of wine they drank as his ‘blood.’”

The Last Supper began the communion ordinances celebrated by Christians of all backgrounds and denominations. 

According to the History Channel, “Easter foods are steeped in symbolism. An Easter lamb dinner also has historical roots since a lamb was often used as a sacrificial animal in Jewish traditions, and lamb is frequently served during Passover. The phrase ‘lamb of God’ is sometimes used to refer to Jesus and the sacrificial nature of his death.”

Mackenzie Peters, CBU alumna in graphic design and visual experience, and Bella Ponce, CBU alumna in photography, are the founders of The Art of Hospitality Co, a platform dedicated to educating young adults on biblical hospitality.

While the Easter season is typically an opportunity for Christians to practice hospitality in the context of meals shared together, Peters and Ponce argue that hospitality and gathering together can happen year-round. The unity and fellowship we receive through the gospel and the Easter story are why we gather and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. 

“The idea of hospitality is historically rooted in Christianity, when believers in Christ would come together in the act of koinonia; a deeper form of fellowship than an informal social gathering,” Peters said. “The early church broke bread together and shared all they possessed with one another. Hospitality was a habit of service in daily life, not limited to extraordinary occasions or holidays.”

Peters shared that food is significant within Christian culture simply because it is a gift from God, symbolizing an act of grace toward the human race. 

“Since the fall of man, the arc of the Bible and history has been a story of God redeeming his people, bringing them back to himself and inviting them to dine at his table,” Peters said. 

Meals shared is one of the tools God uses to bring believers into community with one another, according to Peters and Ponce.  

“Fellowship reaches its full potential when the Creator is involved, pointing us to the ultimate bread of life: Jesus himself, who is the only one who can meet our deepest needs,” Ponce said. 

Christians remember the Easter story through communion, a ritual involving bread and wine. God gives us food as physical nourishment and uses food as symbolism in reflecting our need for spiritual nourishment in him. 

“Communion is reflecting, confessing and choosing to abide in Christ. Jesus says he is the bread of life, meaning our deepest needs are met by him alone,” Ponce said. “He is sufficient and sustaining and will never leave us spiritually hungry. We must understand the depth of the great invitation we have been given by Christ. What we bring to Christ’s dining table is a hunger for him and his word.”

Peters explained that food has played a significant role in all cultures. Specifically, she discussed how it was significant in the lives of the Jewish people.  

“In the first-century Jewish culture, meals were in such a way boundary markers of society, as it was shamed upon to share a meal of a different race, religion or socioeconomic status,” Peters said. “But Jesus dined in a different fashion, as he ate with sinners and tax collectors, both Jew and Gentile.”

Jesus practiced hospitality in the context of food since his first miracle – turning water to wine – until his final meal with his disciples before his ascension. Ponce admires and looks to Jesus’ example in practicing hospitality in a variety of environments and situations over the course of his ministry.

“Jesus was the walking manifestation of God’s heart, displaying the gospel one meal at a time,” Peters said. “As Christians, we are called to show hospitality just as Christ did, dining with and serving the appetites of friends, strangers, widows and sinners. Jesus dined with sinners throughout his whole ministry, using physical hunger as an invitation to satisfy their spiritual hunger.”

Ponce encouraged students to practice hospitality during the Easter season and year-round. 

“I would encourage believers during this time to pray for a proper heart posture, one that sits in deep gratitude over the most critical invitation humanity has ever received, to dine with Christ at his table,” Ponce said. 

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