Posted by: rcottrill | September 5, 2012

Come and Dine

Words: Charles Brenton Widmeyer (b. July 19, 1884; d. Dec. 14, 1974)
Music: Charles Brenton Widmeyer

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Pastor Widmeyer wrote the words and music for this gospel song in 1906. The reason for the writing of it is explained in the Wordwise Hymns link. It is based on an incident described in John 21:1-14.

We have various expressions for it. When a meal is ready, a voice from the kitchen may call, “Dinner is served,” or, less formally, “Chow’s on!” or “Come and get it!” (Or even, humorously, “Come and get it or we’ll throw it out!”) Whatever the wording, when we’re hungry, the call to the table is welcome indeed.

But what if you went on an all night fishing expedition, and had nothing to show for it. That’s what happened to Peter and half a dozen of the other disciples (Jn. 21:3). Not only was that disappointing, you can be sure they’d worked up a big appetite, and it was distressing that they had nothing to cook for breakfast (vs. 5). But a better fisherman than Peter and his friends had been at work.

Someone on the shore had apparently not only caught fish, but cooked them, along with some breakfast toast (vs. 9). It was the Lord Jesus, but in the dim and misty light of the early morning, they didn’t recognize Him at first (vs. 4). He called for them to make one more cast of their net “on the right side of the boat” (vs. 6). The result was a catch so great they had trouble hauling the net into the boat, and later found that they had 153 “large fish” (6, 11). Someone has outlined the passage: Go fish; No fish; Oh, fish!

When they came ashore, the Lord invited them to “come and eat breakfast” (vs. 12)–or, in the KJV that Widmeyer was using, “Come and dine.” It’s a touching incident of camaraderie and mutual friendship. But of course it is more than that. What can we learn from what happened?

It is a minor point, perhaps, but it deserves mention: the Lord Jesus Christ was not a vegetarian. He not only prepared fish for others, He ate it Himself (cf. Lk. 24:42-43). People can choose to be vegans if they wish, but we have God’s permission to eat meat (Gen. 9:3).

Further, was the huge catch the result of a miracle? Perhaps, but not necessarily (not in the same way as the wine provided for the marriage supper at Cana (Jn. 2:1-11), an incident that Widmeyer references in his refrain. It may simply be an example of divine omniscience. That the Lord of all creation knew that there was a school of fish swimming by at that moment, and instructed His disciples accordingly. (It would, however, be quite interesting to learn where the fish Jesus cooked came from!)

The larger lesson here is the loving care and provision of the Lord. These rugged fishermen had been called to be “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19), commissioned to preach the gospel and bring others to the Saviour. And just as the Lord had provided for them in the practical way that morning, so He would meet their spiritual needs in ministry. In fact, we see in these verses that the Lord had anticipated their need and had prepared in advance to meet it.

What a blessing to be able to trust in God’s provision, knowing that He already knows what we’ll face tomorrow and stands ready to help us. Without Him, we can achieve nothing of eternal worth (cf. Jn. 15:5). With His enablement, we can carry out the Great Commission. When the church at Philippi gave sacrificially to support the missionary work of Paul, he reassured them: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). He can do the same for each believer, meet our needs. (Not our greeds, but our needs!)

Paul certainly didn’t preach a “prosperity gospel”! He said, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound…both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Phil. 4:11-12). But always the Lord was faithful, and he accepted both luxury and lack as part of His plan.

One final thought. There is, at least in the first stanza of Charles Widmeyer’s song, a lovely analogy to the Lord’s Supper, where spiritual nourishment awaits us in fellowship with Christ. And in his final stanza (CH-3), the author anticipates the coming joys of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9).

CH-1) Jesus has a table spread
Where the saints of God are fed,
He invites His chosen people, “Come and dine”;
With His manna He doth feed
And supplies our every need:
O ’tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time!

“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”;
You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time;
He who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now, “Come and dine.”

Questions:
1) What kind(s) of hunger can the Lord satisfy? And how does He do this?

2) Why are there so many spiritually malnourished Christians today, when the Lord has provided for us in abundance?

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