By Todd Outcalt
toutcalt@calvaryunited.org

I don't know how many of my male counterparts do the cooking in their homes, but ever since my wife started working longer hours, I've been doing the bulk of the boiling and baking. It's not a bad gig, actually, if you can buy enough cans, jars, boxes and frozen entrees to get by for a couple of weeks at a time. My two teenagers complain, but hey, I'm the dad and I call the shots in my kitchen.

Lately, however, I've been pondering the question: Did Jesus cook?

The Gospels do tell us that he broke bread on several occasions, at least once feeding a multitude. We can reasonably assume that he may have also gone fishing with the Zebedee clan and that he did enjoy a good meal when he was invited to a wedding or to someone's home. But he didn't own a stove and, since he had no place to lay his head, I gather that he didn't have a stone to grind with or to bake on.

But did he cook? I have to think so.

Being close to Jesus in the kitchen had to be one of the reasons my grandmother hummed hymns while she cooked, or why we say table blessings. There's something significant about Jesus and food - even the preparing of it. That's why we set a table on a Sunday morning and invite the world. Jesus and cooking naturally go together.

Of course, Jesus had a much different diet than we do. He was likely heavy on the nuts and berries and breads, short on complex carbs and protein. He didn't eat burgers and fries. He didn't have to rely on bottled water to know that he was getting pure refreshment.

Still, Jesus may have carried food with him (a bag of trail mix?) and the only reason he needed for getting together with good friends was the food itself. I think he would have enjoyed my chili. He would probably have used copious shots of Tabasco.

The next time you are in the kitchen cooking, consider Jesus. It's amazing, but I often find myself praying for people while I stir the broth, or humming some tune, while I sweat over the pork chops, which, I assume, Jesus would have eschewed. When I serve up the meal and my kids complain, "Hamburger Helper again?" I am practicing the ancient art of patience and suffering for the sake of Jesus. When I taste what I've cooked, I suffer all the more. My cooking has brought our family closer together and filled us with gratitude for Papa John's and Taco Bell. Every meal is an adventure, and we have to trust that the Lord will save us.

But then, I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know. Happy cooking!

Todd Outcalt serves as senior pastor of Calvary UMC in Brownsburg, Ind. His new blog is toddoutcalt.blogspot.com and some of his latest writing can be found in digital form on www.Amazon.com.