“Worship is a feast in which God is the host, the cook, the waiter, and the meal itself!” (Sam Storms)
In about a month’s time, God willing, Sue and I, together with our kids will be in Kuala Lumpur to attend my niece’s wedding. After the church wedding, there will be a traditional tea ceremony followed by a wedding reception with 250 – 300 people in attendance.
There is going to be a huge feast. While there are different menus to suit different budgets, a standard menu would be at least an 8-course scrumptious meal! Food has always played a central role in my culture. Take for instance when Chinese greet each other – and it does not matter what time of the day it is – we say, ‘Have you eaten yet? Or are you full?’ Festivals, holidays or just normal social occasions usually revolve around food.
Food or feasting is important in every culture even if the Chinese arguably take its significance to another level! Special family occasions such as births, family reunions, weddings, anniversaries are celebrated through meals. In Leviticus 23, there are seven feasts the people of Israel were commanded to observe, one of which marked the greatest event in their history, the Passover.
Jesus constantly depicts salvation as a feast. He left us a meal – the Lord’s Supper – by which to remember his costly sacrifice on the cross for our sins. The apostle John compares the conclusion of history to a great wedding feast, depicting the believer’s everlasting friendship with Jesus (Revelation 19). It is no surprise then that the centerpiece of the parable in Luke 15 is a feast of homecoming. Why is it important in the story?
According to Keller, one of the things feasts means is that “God will someday make this world home again. He’s going to wipe away death, suffering, and tears, and will give us bodies that run and are never weary. And when we get there, we will say something like what Jewel the Unicorn said at the end of the Chronicles of Narnia: ‘I’ve come home at last! I belong here. This is the land I’ve been looking for all my life, though I never knew it!’.
This is possible only because our true elder brother, Jesus, left home (Philippians 2), became homeless, alienated and finally forsaken and cast out at the cross so anyone repentant can be brought home into God’s presence. The feast of the father when understood in context then is not primarily in honour of the prodigal son but the prodigal father, a picture of God who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to create for himself a new community, set apart for him by his sheer grace!