In Brief

In this lesson, students explore how Jesus interacted with a range of others as he ate with them before applying what they have learned to a small personal interview setting.


  • Students will examine New Testament passages with a focus on how Jesus approached hospitable interaction.
  • Students will practice hospitable interaction in personal interview settings.

Thinking Ahead

It is all too easy to compartmentalize. There is the life of Jesus as described in the Gospels, with its stories and miracles. There are the fruits of the Spirit. There is the question of what makes a human being good. And there are the ways we debate public issues and work alongside or resist others in the public square. If we keep the first two of these separated into a religious or “spiritual” realm of experience and think of the second two as part of a different conversation about how the work gets done, we can lose sight of the deep connections among all of them and the wholeness that is called for when we are admonished to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. This lesson aims to draw the connections; as you lead it, think about how you can help students to see how the New Testament material is not just devotional, but is meant to have consequences for how we negotiate the differences in our own society.

Preparing the Activities

For this lesson, you will need:

Teaching the Activities

Introduction (3 minutes)

Begin by asking students to reflect aloud on what they think Jesus was like when he was with his friends? And what was he like when he was with people who were not his friends? Explain that today’s lesson will begin by focusing on times when Jesus ate with people, and that it will focus on the Gospel of Luke.

First Phase (25 minutes)

Organize students into pairs and assign one of the following biblical passages to each pair (if your class is smaller, consider giving two of the shorter passages to a single pair). Slide 1 can be used to display the list. Students can use Bibles or the handout provided.

  • Luke 5: 27-35 (Jesus is criticized for eating with tax collectors and sinners)
  • Luke 6: 1-5 (Jesus and his disciples eat from grain fields on the Sabbath)
  • Luke 7: 36-50 (A woman with a bad reputation anoints Jesus’ feet during a meal)
  • Luke 9: 12-17 (Feeding the 5000)
  • Luke 10: 38-42 (Martha and Mary)
  • Luke 11: 37-44 (Jesus rebuke the Pharisees for placing purity above mercy)
  • Luke 22: 14-30 (The Last Supper)
  • Luke 24: 28-35 (Jesus recognized in the breaking of bread on the way to Emmaus)
  • Luke 24: 40-49 (Jesus eats with the disciples after the resurrection)

(Note: This sequence omits an important passage, Luke 14: 1-24 which deals with healing on the Sabbath, teachings about hospitality and being a guest. Since this is a longer passage and one that teaches directly about how hospitality should work, it is dealt with separately later.)

As students read, have everyone discuss the same set of questions, applying them to the passage assigned to them. Tell them to write a short (one-sentence) answer to each question.

  • What is the setting of the meal?
  • Who does Jesus eat with?
  • What difficulties arise at the shared meal?
  • How does Jesus respond?
  • Think back to our earlier discussion of high walls, open doors, and costly table fellowship—do you see a focus on any of these three in the passage?

When students have answered these questions (allow 5 minutes), collate their answers, inviting students to listen for patterns as you do so. You could have students add sticky notes to a poster that is then projected, or have them add to an online document, or have them report orally as you summarize on the board. Keep the collation phase brisk, and do not add interpretive commentary at this point.

Combine the student pairs into groups of four and ask them to discuss what patterns they see in the answers from the groups looking at different texts. After a few minutes for discussion, lead a whole-class discussion on their findings. Be open to students’ own observations and raise the following points if they do not emerge:

  • Jesus does not just make statements—he often asks questions;
  • Jesus was often criticized for welcoming those whom others thought should be excluded;
  • When criticism arose based on religious norms, Jesus tended to defend the outsider and to be harsh to those with power;
  • Shared meals seem to have regularly been places where clashes in beliefs and values were negotiated, and Jesus did not avoid such encounters;
  • Breaking bread with others was one of Jesus’ signature acts.

Push the class to relate what they have seen in these stories back to the house images from lesson 1 (are the Pharisees a good example of an exclusive focus on high walls, keeping others out for purity? Did Jesus welcome others in an “anything goes” manner? How did Jesus count the cost of close table fellowship where difficult differences were in play?). Also prompt them to relate these stories to the examination of the fruits of the Spirit from lesson 2 (did Jesus exhibit any of the fruits of the Spirit in his interactions during table fellowship?).

Second phase: Interviews (20 minutes)

Read Luke 14:1-24 aloud, pointing out that as well as eating with various people, Jesus taught about how to engage in hospitality both as a guest and as a host. He said that hosts should not just be hospitable to those who have high status or can pay them back, and that guests should not seek status and push themselves forward.

Point out to students that talking about how Jesus welcomed others and taught about hospitality is one thing but practicing hospitality ourselves in the face of deep-seated differences is more difficult. Say that students are going to have a chance to practice asking good questions and being hospitable to others through an interview. Explain that they will first practice this in class and then follow up with an interview outside school.

Ask students to pair up, face one another, and determine who will be the interviewer first. Tell them that they will have three minutes, during which the interviewer will only ask questions, and that the questions should be chosen to help them learn more about their partner’s experiences. After three minutes they will switch roles with their partner and repeat the process. Examples of good questions might include:

  • What is one of your favorite vacation memories?
  • What was one of the best or worst gifts you ever received?
  • What was an experience that made you feel proud?
  • What was an experience that made you embarrassed?

After each student has had a chance to be the interviewer, ask the class to comment briefly on the process. What went well? What was difficult? What would have made it easier or less awkward?

If it does not emerge during this discussion, point to the importance of follow-up questions for keeping a conversation going. Give some initial examples, and ask students to provide more suggestions:

  • What happened next?
  • How did that make you feel?
  • Why do you think you responded that way?

Next, ask students what kinds of body language and other non-verbal communication might communicate hospitality to the interviewee, and what kinds might not. Examples may include tone of voice, eye-rolling, looking at a watch, eye contact or its absence, signs of impatience, posture.

After this discussion, ask students to repeat the three-minute interviews, focusing on supporting the interviewee through follow-up questions and hospitable non-verbal communication.

Finally, hand out the assignment sheet and introduce the assignment. Students are to find a person they know with whom they are likely to have political, cultural, or religious differences and conduct an interview with them. The goal of the interview is not to find ways to disagree with the other person, but to better understand that person’s perspective and why they might have that perspective. The interviewer’s goal is simply to ask questions and practice modeling hospitality to the interviewee.

Tell students that it is fine to conduct their interview with another student or a faculty member (there is a chance to practice a more substantial interview in another lesson sequence in this resource) If some students want to look further afield, discuss with them how to arrange an interview in a safe space. Some suggested options might be a coffee shop, on campus in the front office/library/media center/counseling center, or in a public space. Consider holding the interviews virtually over Zoom, Teams, etc. and recording them in that environment as a way to minimize issues with travel and safety.

Students will need enough time to find an interviewee and arrange an interview that fits their schedule, so this assignment should not be due the next day. Set a suitable deadline, and after it is completed, debrief the interview with some class discussion that focuses on the interview process. Relate the discussion back to the themes of the preceding lessons—how did the experience of the interview relate to hospitality or to the fruits of the Spirit? What can students take away from the experience for future interaction with others who have perspectives that clash with theirs?