This week in John’s 3rd Epistle, we will come to a passage that encourages Christian hospitality. It will have a particular point of emphasis in that text, but today I’d like for us to consider Christian hospitality from the perspective of its source. Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse has much for us to consider, but today let’s read it with an eye toward Jesus’ hospitality.
Wednesday, May 27th
Larger Portion of Scripture - John 6
Focused Passage for Reflection - John 6:22-59
Reflecting on the Text:
What makes for a good host? We probably all have particular traits we would add to the list. Among them would be his or her care and concern for the guests and their experience. Good hosts provide a welcoming atmosphere for their guests. Good hosts are thoughtful about the meal they will serve, considering the needs of the guests. Good hosts are concerned about the safety and care of their guests.
We appreciate it when someone cares for us in these ways, but for many of us, offering this kind of hospitality can seem burdensome. If told to be hospitable, it can seem like a chore. So in churchy circles, when we think of hospitality, we try and ease the burden by calling it “Christian hospitality.” This is how we love others. But even with the label, many of us still ask why? Maybe these thoughts come to us because far too often we separate “Christian doing” from “being in Christ.”
In the opening verses of John 6, Jesus fed the five thousand. The next day, many of those people chased Jesus down across the sea to Capernaum…because they wanted more food. But Jesus knew their hearts. In v. 26 He told them as much when He said they had come, not for Him, but because of what they could get from Him. Then over the course of this discourse, He told them not to separate Him from His benefits. That is the message of v. 35… “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’”
In the discussion, the people spoke of the manna God provided in the wilderness. But rather than offering manna, Jesus was drawing them to Himself. The manna perished. Jesus was and is the food that endures. And He was inviting all who would come to Him to do so (those who have been drawn to Him by the Father), that they might have eternal life. He was providing a welcoming atmosphere, a thoughtful meal, and safety for all His guests.
Jesus is both host and meal. Through this vivid imagery that troubled some of the hearers, Jesus pointed His guests to an intimate union. Our feasting on Him, on His body and blood, was and is to be a sign of our abiding in Him. Jesus is both host and meal.
Do you see it? Christian hospitality points us to Christ, but it cannot be offered unless it is first received. And when we receive Christ, we are receiving much more than simply the benefit of a ticket into heaven. We are receiving Christ Himself...Christ and His benefits. At His table, there is an abundant supply of food (v. 35). To those who, by the power of the Holy Spirit hear this call, He bids you come and partake (vv. 53-55).
Questions for personal reflection:
In what ways are you tempted to separate Christ from His benefits, focusing not on a relationship with Him but rather on what you might get from Him?
How does this temptation to separate Christ from His benefits impact the way you love others?
How does it impact your understanding and practice of Christian hospitality?