My table was set for four. Shiny, white crocks were ready to hold warm vegetable chili, with side plates for cornbread and bowls for fruit salad. Against the bright tablecloth, the silverware sparkled and the white plates looked pretty yet casual. The ladies were coming for a “cook your own” lunch.
We greeted one another with warm hugs and poured refreshing glasses of hibiscus tea. Then came a surprise: One guest asked, “Is it alright that I invited my husband and his work partner to join us?”
Two more around the table, I thought. Yes! We can handle that! There’s always room for more.
Soon the men arrived. Straight from the construction site, they were famished. My kitchen was packed with bodies. Yet each person found a place and a task.
We got to work preparing vegetables for the chili. The older women showed the younger ones their tricks of the trade, like how to chop carrots with a chef’s knife and how to peel garlic. While one person diced, another opened the canned goods. One of the men, who enjoyed baking, mixed up the cornbread and popped it in the oven. The other man stirred and seasoned the bubbling chili. I mixed honey, cinnamon, and butter (to slather on the cornbread) and put out two more place settings.
Running Out or Running Over?
When extra guests knock at the door, a hostess might worry about running out of food or drink. With Jesus, there is never lack. Psalm 23:5 reminds us, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
Consider the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-12). Jesus’ mother Mary noticed that the wine ran out. She approached her son with this dilemma. In faith, she said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
At Jesus’ command, the servants filled six stone jars with water. “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast,” Jesus told the servants. The master and his guests were delighted with the wine’s fragrance and rich taste—the best vintage served all day! Trusting Jesus led to abundant blessing.
In the Kingdom, there is no lack. Twice, Jesus multiplied loaves and fish to feed thousands.
The Gospel of Mark, chapter 6, tells the story. Weary from a day of teaching and in a remote place, the disciples were worried about the evening meal. They wanted to dismiss the crowd back to town, to find food.
Jesus had a different plan. “You give them something to eat,” the Master said. They had only five loaves and two fish.
Jesus blessed the food and his disciples distributed it. “They all ate and were satisfied” (Mark 6:42). Twelve basketfuls of broken pieces remained! That’s a lot of leftovers!
Mark (chapter 8:1-9) recounts a second miracle of provision. After three days with Jesus, a large crowd had nothing to eat. The disciples had seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. Once again, Jesus gave thanks for the food, and his disciples distributed it.
“The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over” (Mark 8:8).
Our God is an abundant provider. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). In Him, we lack nothing. As stated in Proverbs 3:10, “Your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”
This manifested in my kitchen: a simple pot of chili satisfied hungry bellies while our communal prayer and conversation satisfied our souls. God wants to satisfy us in body, soul, and Spirit.
Chili and cornbread for a crowd in my kitchen became a metaphor for the Kingdom of heaven: All are welcome. Each person contributes to the divine purpose. And there is provision enough for everyone.