MealTime Habits of the Messiah

“Jesus was killed because of the way he ate”

Mealtime Habits Of The Mes Copy-2If you like that statement (from Robert Karris) then you will love this book. If you have heard the way I preach in a church from the story of Jesus and then weave in the other stories and issues, and if you liked it, then you will love this book. Not the aesthetics, mind you – they don’t work for me – when are Zondervan going to quit that 1994 “i’m so grungy GenX gimme back my damn skateboard so i can wear down your park bench” kind of graphic? This book would have done better with something friendlier, warmer, classier, HOME-IER. I guess they were aiming at the church youth group crowd – and to be honest – this is a really good church youth group kind of book. But its more than that! I had to mention the poor choice of typeface, btw, simply because the rest of the book is so dang good that i don’t want to sound like a swooning schoolgirl at a Jonny Depp autograph singing.

So did I enjoy the book?

I adored it.

Even though I am furious at Conrad Gempf for writing a book that I should have written myself, I have no choice but to give it two thumbs up and 4 out of 5 stars. I have stopped halfway through the book in case it gets better and I have to foolishly award it another star.

One reason why i am furious at Conrad is because i think he set up me and knew i would like his book before he sent it to me. I am assuming he knows how much I hang out in the gospels and describe myself as one who tells stories and throws parties. He may have come across my statement that floats around UK blogs “the Kingdom is like a house full of poor people partying.” However, there is no proof at all that Conrad has ever read my stuff or heard me speak and there is no connection with my stuff and his stuff . .. which makes me hate him even more!

Conrad plays around in the gospels like i do – comparing, contrasting, juxtaposing, triangulating this story and that one and the one before and the one after and what Luke added that Mark doesn’t and so on. Sounds so much like my synoptic storytelling thats its scary. I tell the stories of Jesus a bit like Ronnie Corbett used to weave his stories together back in the 1970’s.

Ronnie Who? When?

Ohhh Shut Up!

But I think I am more of a Luke person and Conrad seems to be a Mark person. Luke, for me, has the historical chronological timekeeping as a kind of background layer to his passionate, artful sensitive focus of Jesus life and ministry. The Gospel of Mark, in my opinion, reads more like a blog – to the point, focusing on the miraculous, and punctuated with “and then” “and then” and then” . . . kind of how my kids talk. And certainly how Conrad writes. In fact, I could probably read a chapter of this book to my kids each night and they would love it. And being written by a guy with a PhD, thats pretty good.

As for the book. Absolute must-buy and must-read. If Ryan Bolger is correct in saying the emerging church finds its ecclesiology more from the gospels than the epistles, (and I concur, especially among the emerging house church movements) and if our communication is more narrative when describing narratives, then the way of Jesus described in this book is not only something to read about, but it is something on which to model your own storytelling, preaching and blogging. And any book that zooms in on Jesus at a meal table, or bar-b-q’ing fish for breakfast, is speaking my language.

Cool piece in the intro is worth repeating:

Ethical and Aesthetic Environmental Impact Statement: No Microsoft products were used by the author in the composition of this book.

Well, maybe on your computer, Conrad . . . but I suspect someone down the editorial chain was not as ethically aesthetic as you. Well done, Conrad, bloody good book!

Reviews by Jason Clark and Fred Peatross.

Buy the book or Download Chapter (PDF)


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • joeturner says:

    Don’t want to split hairs here, but wasn’t it Campolo who coined the phrase ‘the kingdom of heaven is a party’ along with the remarkable story of the prostitute and the midnight cafe..?
    I like the idea of ‘the kingdom of heaven is a barbeque on the beach.. and you’re invited’ though 🙂
    isn’t it remarkable that on one occasion the disciples couldn’t be sure it was Jesus until he started cooking… now that says something

  • Mark Berry says:

    My copy is currently winging it’s way from Amazon, I look froward with even more relish (BBQ perhaps?) after reading this… Cheers Andrew BTW see you in Brum on July 2nd

  • andrew jones says:

    thanks joe – i read campolos book years ago and its possible that his usage gave me the freedom to use the word “party” and then go on to add the rest of the kingdom parables
    as for cooking – i cook almost every night – just love it
    and my last few trips away, i was cooking in almost everybody’s kitchen – making crepes in Germany AND California.
    People who know me and invite me over usually ask what ingredients they should by before i come. 2 nights ago we went to visit friends and i cooked a lamb curry in their kitchen
    for me, it is a spiritual discipline, a monastic style slowing down and co-creating with the natural elements of food and life, and worshipful delight of aroma and taste.
    Our household is a micowave free zone.

  • I gotta say I was turned off by the title – but maybe that’s because I saw Benny Hinn on TV this morning offering a Bible diet book in exchange for a “gift” of $35. Yech.
    Sounds cool, though the book’s actual thesis isn’t really apparent anywhere… But the fact that it’s Microsoft-free really sells me ;^)

  • Andrew, do you know Carl Tinnion from England? He works with YWAM. I was at a YWAM Leadership conference at the HArpenden YWAM base in August 2003 and Carl told us one of Jesus’ parables in his own words around a huge bonfire as he cooked fish for us to eat. It was an AMAZING experience and one i will never forget. Can’t wait to buy the book and read it!

  • ConradGempf says:

    Knew you’d like it?!? You’ve got to be kidding, man! I saw the cover of my book appear on your “Now Reading” section a week ago or whenever and I was terrified. My previous book, _Jesus Asked_, I would have been much more confident that you’d like. This one was scarey. I was half hoping that you wouldn’t get round to reading it.
    No, I’ve never heard you speak and have only read your blog — but not regularly until after _Mealtime_ was finished. We did meet once, though neither of us had much of a clue who the other was. On one of Brian McLaren’s trips to speak at our campus, my boss was out of town, so I was charged with taking care of Brian and entourage, including bringing folks upstairs to the dining room for a quick tea before the gig. Somehow, you and I wound up seated next to each other and made small and Mac talk.
    You’re right about the Mark-Luke thing; it’s partly deliberate though — my PhD is in Luke and Acts, and it’s sometimes easier for me to communicate without getting techinical if I use Mark.
    So finish reading the book already — I kinda want that extra star!
    I’m not sure what I’m going to do about the next book. There’ve been shake-ups at Zondervan that sort of also shook up my reasons for going the publisher route rather than the Free-On-The-Website route. The plan, though, was for the next book to be off the gospels. Working title: _How To Like Paul Again_.
    By the way — you’re right: the editorial layer at Zondervan uses Microsoft Windows, so naturally they’ve no choice of software but to use Microsoft Word. But once they’re done with the text, it gets translated back to Mac again because, naturally, their cover artists and page layout people all use Mac (Quark but converting to InDesign).

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