The film that captures all of this so powerfully is "Babette's Feast." The film is based on the short story by Danish writer Isak Dinesen, who was influenced by the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard and his idea of the "aesthetic" and "ethical" approches to living. The characters in the film represent those who try to live out one or the other of these approaches to life. It ends with a lavish banquet where members of a strict, lifeless, and bland religious sect dine with a great general who chose the path of worldly success. He wonders if he missed out on what really mattered in life.
Under the influence of the warmth of the banquet and the sight, scent, and taste of rich foods, rivalries vanish and tensions melt away. Dour faces soften as forgiveness is offered and love and laughter flow. Finally, the general stands and offers a toast. Quoting Psalm 85, he says, "For mercy and truth have met together and righteousness and bliss have kissed one another."
Dinesen is hinting at a third approach to life. A place beyond the "aesthetic" and the "ethical." She hints at it in the imagery of a banquet where the diners have a momentary mystical experience when "righteousness and bliss" meet and kiss. What Dinesen's story illustrates is what Jesus' parable of the lost sons is meant to explain. Jesus is "the bread of Heaven."
In his book, The Prodigal God, author and pastor Tim Keller explains that, "both the sensual way of the younger brother and the ethical way of the older brother are spiritual dead ends. Jesus
"On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine-the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations, he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the digrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken."