Intriguing Implications of Hospitality: Wine and Food in Paradise
by Roland Clarke

Summary: Jesus Christ pictured water and bread as eternal life in John chapters 4 and 6. Interestingly, the prophet Isaiah depicted eternal life with a banquet of wine and rich food (Isaiah 25:6-9). Recently I had a fascinating and thought provoking conversation with a Muslim friend which was inspired by this intuitively appealing imagery.

By way of introduction, it is important to note that hospitality is a hallmark in the Mideast, not withstanding a trend towards conservative values as well as a seemingly irrepressible jihadist agenda.

Last week I had the delightful opportunity of reading a parable on hospitality to Ahmed. (Luke 14:12-24) In this story Christ portrays God as the host of a great banquet. Needless to say, this passage (and its OT counterpart) resonated with my friend. As a Muslim he believed paradise is a place where Allah provides a feast of rich food and wine.

A guest who was sitting at the table with Jesus responded to Christ's challenging teaching on hospitality,
"Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God."

Where do you think Jesus’ guest got this idea from, if not the writings of the prophets? So I showed Ahmed Isaiah 25:6-9 where the prophet envisions the kingdom of God in terms of a wonderful feast of rich food. He liked it and continued listening with interest as I read Revelation 21:1-4. This passage, like Isaiah 25, portrays the final removal of death and tears - two gloomy realities which will ultimately be done away with! (Where? -- in Jerusalem!)

Ahmed had no difficulty agreeing with these readings. But then I paused ... as we began probing a question that slightly out of his comfort zone. I asked, "How was Isaiah's prophecy fulfilled? How, exactly, did Almighty God remove these dark realities overshadowing our world?"

I suggested that we consider several clues: First, we read Revelation 1:17,18 where Jesus declared,
"I hold the keys of death and the grave." Then we looked at a death defying miracle in Luke 7:11-17 where Jesus raised the dead son of a widow and effectively removed her tears. We wondered if these might be clues pointing to the beautiful world foretold by Isaiah -- a place where death and tears are no more? (I saw that my friend was paying close attention because he commented how deeply the mother was mourning considering she was a widow and had lost her only son!)

So far, we've looked at three clues that mainly focus on death and tears. Now we turn the spotlight to Jerusalem -- the place where God will destroy death, once and for all. As much as Isaiah predicted this wonderful event would happen in Jerusalem, so also this is confirmed in the vision of John, albeit with one additional clarification -- the "new Jerusalem."

The next passage we looked at was Luke 18:31-33 – where Jesus highlighted Jerusalem as the place where he would die and rise again after three days, thus proving he conquered the grave!

It has not been easy for me to summarize a long and fascinating conversation with Ahmed. Some readers may feel it was too long, others may think it was too short. In conclusion, let me encourage you to explore Old Testament prophecies (as shown above) seeing how they "unfold" in the New Testament, Injil. (Psalm 119:130)

Also I want to encourage followers of Jesus to demonstrate hospitality – the very quality Jesus was teaching in Luke 14:12-24. Notice, Jesus didn't introduce the topic of the great banquet 'out of the blue.' This parable had a fitting setting: a meal. A religious leader had invited Jesus to eat with him. In a similar way, my conversation with Ahmed was prompted by an act of hospitality. It so 'happens', I had blessed him with a large food parcel.

In conclusion, if you're not satisfied with the sketchy explanation of the 4 clues, as provided above, please read the relevant Scripture passages in full! Also you may wish to read two articles which provide a simple yet detailed explanation of 'hospitality' and 'eternal life':

All Bible quotes are taken from the New Living Translation unless otherwise indicated.

If you want to ask any questions please feel free to write me here.