The most important word in the passage above is dinner. In Jesus’ day, to eat with someone was to call them family; to call them equal. If people weren’t in the same class, they would typically dine in different spaces. Rabbis would never eat with someone who wasn’t a rabbi or with anyone who wasn’t very, very spiritual. Then you have Jesus, who is eating with prostitutes, tax collectors and others who are outside of the Kingdom of God.
I believe that this is why it’s more than just a nod to the crucifixion when Jesus says at the last supper to “do this in remembrance of Me.” He’s saying that because of the crucifixion, everyone’s invited to eat at the table with Him – the hurting, the sick, the sinful, the addicted, the hiding and the messed up. In fact, inviting such people to dine with Him was His primary calling on the earth. To demonstrate this, He dressed all the way down, took on the appearance of a slave and washed His disciples’ feet, telling them “no servant is greater than his master.” You see, to be called by Jesus is to be a caller of sinners and a friend of the fallen, hurting and doubting.
No matter where you are today, God wants you at His table. The sinners He invited to eat with Him didn’t stop sinning before they shared a meal, but they probably stopped after they got to know Him because they realized how much they were loved. This is why it’s so important to understand that you belong before you believe!