HOSPITALITY PREPARES THE WAY FOR JESUS
The most astounding moment of all human history is before us; we are about to celebrate Jesus Christ’s return to life after dying on the cross and being buried for three days. This celebration we hold sacred is called Easter. While the birth of Jesus was accompanied by stars in the sky and choirs of angels; Jesus’ resurrection literally shook up the entire universe. So what is this stunning, powerful moment all about?
According to scripture Jesus paid the wages of our sin by being put to death on the cross (Romans 6:23). He was then buried in a cave and in three days came back to life. The Bible tells us it was necessary for Jesus to redeem us (or buy us back) from the slave master who held us in the bondage of sin. To accomplish this enormous task, he broke the rules of the very physical universe he had created; and demolished the power of death that would have kept us separated from God for all eternity. He rose from the dead; unleashing such shocking power that the earth went dark and trembled; the curtain in temple separating us from God’s holy presence was torn top to bottom. You better believe the universe knew something cataclysmic was going on!
So here we are; modern, sophisticated, contemporary Christ-followers coming to this momentous celebration; and just how do we prepare ourselves to honor him? Obviously, the place to look would be at the example of how Jesus himself prepared for what was to happen to him? So let’s just dive in.
Our selfless hospitality prepares the way for Jesus
John 13:1-5 (ESV) says this:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
The Passover meal was to remember when death passed-over the homes of God’s people who were being held captive in Egypt. A lamb had to be sacrificed and its blood spread on the doorpost as God instructed them. This would insure that the lives of their firstborn sons would be spared as the angel of death passed over the land. The Passover celebration meal was commanded by God as a remembrance of his mercy towards his people. So here is Jesus; God’s physical presence in the story of humanity; sitting at this remembrance meal with his disciples, fully aware that he is about to be killed. What does he do next? Jesus gets up from the table and begins to wash the dirty, ugly and crusty feet of his disciples.
Prepare Ye The Way of The Lord John 13:12-15 (NIV) says:
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
We could begin understanding this message by asking what Jesus didn’t say. He didn’t say to give up meat or to stop using your new gaming console for 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter; He said go wash dirty feet! Ouch! Sacrifice and mercy start with humility and service as Jesus so clearly demonstrated.
Inviting someone into your home is an expression of Christ-like humility and love
So I have to ask: are we so self-absorbed that we think preparing for the Easter celebration is all about giving up a food we like or stuff we own in some artificial act of self-denial and holiness? I think this tradition, while well intended, gives us a pass to not make substantive change in our lives. It has become a tradition of symbolism over substance. But that is not what Jesus was faced with. Jesus prepared for the heavy, horrific, painful and messy experience of the cross by giving up himself to serve others. Jesus is telling us in this scripture to give up everything we are and have, that makes us think we are better than the person next to us. Instead we are to serve them, even to washing their dirty feet because that is how we follow Jesus as Lord in our life. Wow! A little harsh isn’t it? Jesus showed by his example what it means to be a humble servant; even as far as death on the cross. If we are going to call him our Lord, than we must obey and follow his example. Do you agree?
Hospitality prepares the way for Jesus! You too have the chance and the choice right now to get up from the comfy things you own and the nice table you have, and the good food you are blessed to eat and do something that has substantial meaning. Go knock on the door of a neighbor and invite them to your table. Give up your comfort, your right-to-privacy, your attitude that God provided all this just for you, and humble yourself to serve your neighbor! Bring them into your home and family and personal space and make them more important than you! Isn’t this the example Jesus wanted us to follow?
Hospitality is how a disciple of Christ lives.
Jesus was all about mending and restoring relationships because that is what has eternal significance. If you never start relationships with a neighbor then how can Jesus get involved with them? Our selfless hospitality prepares the way for Jesus. Guess what? He even promised we would be blessed if we do this. So why aren’t you running out the door to love on your neighbor this minute?
Hospitality is the language of humility Inviting someone you don’t know, regardless of who or what they represent, into your home is an expression of Christ-like humility and love. It says to them they are worth your time and attention and will naturally want to know why you are taking an interest in them. How beautiful. They get it. Your sacrificial act of obedience in following Jesus your Lord honors them. Now they are in the position to begin the process of seeing their own worth through God’s eyes as demonstrated up-close and personally by you. You will be blessed by gaining a new friend, by seeing God use your own broken and messy life to offer hope to the lost; and you get to practice being the hands and feet of Jesus. Give and you will gain! Is that counter-culture or what?
May I be so bold as to say, nothing else matters in preparing ourselves for Easter? Jesus, the Son of God, humbled himself far beyond just washing our dirty feet. He did not hold on even to his very life because he loved us so much. He knew we could not spend eternity in fellowship with him if he did not sacrificially pay the wages we have earned for our sin. We have the chance to respect that incomprehensible honor, and pay it forward to our neighbors. Hospitality is how a disciple of Christ lives.
“Oh Dear Lord, soften our hearts! May we give up everything that stands in the way of following your example and loving the people around us more than we love our stuff and ourselves!“
Please give this kind of Christlike hospitality a try! What have you got to lose? Pride? What will you get in return? Blessings? New friendships? The opportunity to share how God is changing your heart and life? The chance to make your table a place of hope and healing for the hurting and lost? The opportunity to fulfill your purpose and lead another person into a relationship with our Heavenly Father?
May you have a blessed and joyous Easter Celebration of Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection! That’s how much He loved us. The question you must now answer is: Do you love him back enough to live out through hospitality the picture of the cross in your own life? Are you willing to die to self and rise up into a life that is lived for the eternal benefit of our neighbors just way Jesus showed us? Will you make the choice and follow him through loving your neighbor more than yourself? Prepare the way for Jesus with hospitality! Celebrate your dining room table for Jesus’ sake.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (ESV)