Part VII of our series on Opening Your Home
On Monday we talked about a gospel reality that has been almost completely lost to the church today, namely: Biblically, our reception of the message of the gospel and our reception of the messenger of the gospel are interchangeable in God’s eyes.
So failing to welcome the messenger with hospitality is the same thing as rejecting the message of the gospel—and thus rejecting Christ himself.
Christ embodies this perfectly in his own life, from the moment of his conception.
He places himself, defenseless, in a womb—the womb of a woman betrothed to be married, whose husband contemplates divorcing her quietly to avoid shaming her. But in Luke 1:38, Mary extends hospitality to Jesus (which is pretty inconvenient for her!) when the angel Gabriel visits her to announce that she will give birth to him (“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word”). And Joseph’s response of keeping Mary as his wife (in Matthew 1:24-25) shows his welcoming reception of God’s message—and thus Jesus—as well.
And throughout Jesus’ life, right up through his ascension to heaven, we see him daily seeking hospitality. Consider Matthew 8:20, where Jesus says, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Seeking hospitality was as much a part of Jesus’ evangelism approach as his presentation of the message.
And he trains his apostles to follow the same approach. All the stories of Jesus’ evangelism and that of his apostles involve the gospel messenger intentionally traveling with nothing in order to rely completely upon the hospitality of those with whom the message is shared.
In Luke 10 Jesus gives very specific instructions as to how his messengers should be provisioned—or, rather un-provisioned. They are to appear as strangers and aliens as they travel. They are to carry nothing and be, like him, wholly reliant upon the hospitality of those they meet and with whom they share the message.
This is because Christ and his messengers always appear as ones seeking hospitality:
1After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ (Luke 10:1-9)
It’s not because Jesus was a bad fundraiser that he sent out his messengers empty-handed! Given that he’s the Lord of the universe, I have no doubt that had he wanted to, he could have made sure that his messengers traveled as wealthy philanthropists instead of as needy beggars.
But he had a purpose for sending out his messengers with nothing: In so doing, those willing to extend hospitality to his messengers—and thus to him—would be revealed.
Notice how in Luke 10:1, Jesus sends his messengers “to every town and place where he was about to go.” These hosts are the ones to whom he himself will extend hospitality when they come into his own kingdom carrying nothing.
And those who refuse him can expect to be refused in return.
How should this affect our own evangelism efforts?