“Seeing” Jesus in Showing Hospitality

Do you have a favorite bible story? If I had to pick one, it would probably the story of Jesus appearing to the two disciples walking along on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. My wife and I love this story so much we named our son “Emmaus”.

The Supper at Emmaus

There’s a painting titled Supper at Emmaus by a well known Renaissance artist who was called Caravaggio (pictured above). In the painting he is trying to capture the supper that Jesus shared with the two disciples he met along the road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 28-31).

He actually did two different paintings of this moment. This is the first of the two. Jesus is the central future with his eyes closed and hand lifted as he prays. The light is shining upon him, all the eyes are looking at him. He is the central figure. The painting is life-size (5 feet tall by six feet wide).

The two men seated at the table have just realized that this is Jesus sitting with them. One is so overcome he’s backing his chair up and also leaning in at the same time–like he doesn’t know whether to jump for joy or be afraid. The other disciple has his hands spread out either in worship or disbelief.

Try and imagine this moment. They’ve been walking with this stranger and then all of the sudden, after he gives thanks for the food, they see, this is Jesus—the man they saw brutally murdered and destroyed on the cross.

Caravaggio wants to capture in this painting that very moment when they realized Jesus was not only raised from the dead but he was right there with them in the flesh. Verses 31 and 32 say that Jesus then vanished and they begin to recount how their hearts burned within them as they talked with him on the road about the Scriptures.

Later they run out and get together with the 12 disciples and tell them what happened. Verse 35 says:

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Luke 24:35

But one of the things I love about this painting is that it is inviting us in. Notice how there is an empty spot at the table and there is this basket of fruit almost hanging off. Christ’s right hand is lifted in our direction. Caravaggio is inviting us to this table with Christ and wants us to be a part of this supper.

You do not need to be special to sit at this table. Notice also how ordinary all the figures are. The clothes are not fancy. There are holes, they’re dirty. The guy on the right there has a red nose and looks as if maybe he has a cold. The room is plain. This is not a cathedral or a synagogue or some religious space. This is a very common home and yet there Jesus is and he is inviting us.

What a picture.

Christian Hospitality

Hospitality is a very ordinary, everyday space that Jesus will often show up. And what an example we see here in these two disciples of Christian hospitality. These two eagerly longed for this stranger to stay in their home and visit with them for a while. Verses 28 and 29 say:

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.

Luke 24:28-29

They longed to enjoy this stranger’s company.

Sadly, most of us Americans are not hospitable, at least not any longer. It used to be for a long time in America that you could just drop by someone’s house and visit and stay. It was not uncommon for people to host others for days on end if they were traveling or passing through. No more. Today we value our privacy and space more than we do showing hospitality to others.

These two on the road to Emmaus open their home to the Lord, even though at the time, they did not know who He was… He was just some stranger on the road. But they invite Him into their home to break bread with them.

The Scriptures call us to do such as well:

“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”

Hebrews 13:2

And also:

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

1 Peter 4:9

So invite someone over for dinner. Ask a person who is passing through to stay with you for an evening. We should be especially open to missionaries, bible teachers, or others who have a special calling to proclaim the gospel message.

This is one of those places where Jesus loves to show up. Perhaps we are missing out on deeper fellowship with Jesus because we are not hospitable to others.

By hospitality, I don’t only mean having people over. I mean a general friendliness and openness to others, even strangers. This is rare in these parts but it is often a place that Jesus will show up in our lives. I want to exhort you to seek to be hospitable as these two disciples on the road were that day.

Some of the insights from this post came from Philip Ryken's very helpful commentary on Luke (see the Reformed Expository Commentary on Luke). 

Waiting Tables: An Introduction to the Spiritual Gifts

This is a guest post by one of our elders here at Red Door Church, Russell Rohloff.  “Russ” has served in many capacities at Red Door over the years and has an extensive and broad church background. In this post he draws attention to gifts of the Spirit that were emphasized in historic Christianity, stemming from passages like Isaiah 11:1-3.

We assume that spiritual gifts are intended for some great work to reconcile the world to Jesus, but being filled with the Holy Spirit and His gifts is the ordinary condition of being a Christian.  It is as required for waiting tables as it is for standing before the Jewish Sanhedrin or disputing with the Greeks on Mars Hill.  Lewis Sperry Chafer puts it in this way, “…the child of God, facing what seems like an impossible responsibility in his heavenly walk and service, is directed to the Spirit as the source of all sufficiency.  Every moment in a spiritual life is one of unmeasured need and superhuman demands, and the supply of enabling power of grace must be constantly received and employed.  To be filled with the Spirit is to have the Spirit fulfilling in us all that God intended Him to do when God placed Him there.  To be filled is not the problem of getting more of the Spirit, it is rather the problem of the Spirit getting more of Christians.”

Whenever spiritual gifts are discussed, we turn to familiar New Testament epistle passages like 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and 28 or Romans 12:6-8.  But for centuries the Church started at Isaiah 11:1-3a “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots; and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord…”

These are what might be referred to as the primary gifts.  As the Holy Spirit enters the heart of a regenerated person He brings these gifts with Him.  We all recognize that even in unregenerate men there are natural virtues present that reflect the image and likeness of God.  Even the worst of criminals can truly love someone; the most atheistic of soldiers can show courage under enemy fire; the most worldly person can exhibit generosity.  Virtues perfect the natural part of man and move him to good works in life.  But there is a higher calling that touches his spiritual part and the perfection to do not only good works but God-works requires the infilling and inspiration of God Himself.  The gifts in Isaiah equip us for that task.

Wisdom places within us the holy fear of God by which we recognize the emptiness of the world and see the value of God’s purposes and will.

Understanding equips us to lay hold of truth.  Before truth was made relative, to recognize and live in the world as it really is, was considered sanity; to live otherwise was fantasy.  Understanding equips us to recognize the truth and to detect error.

Counsel is called the gift of prudence, the ability to govern and discipline ourselves by the use of reason.  We would call it good judgment, a practical gift helping us not only to form a plan, but more importantly to carry it out in accordance with the will of God.

Might is also called the gift of fortitude.  It is spiritual backbone, the strength of mind and will that enables us to encounter danger or bear pain with courage and assurance in God’s faithfulness.

Knowledge enables us to respond to the teaching of God’s truth, to know God as He truly is, and to judge everything else in relationship to the work of grace and salvation.

Fear of the Lord is mentioned twice.  The first time is a positive love that moves us towards God, and the second a negative love that makes us dread to be separated from Him.  This first is also called piety, a true reverence towards God marked by visible loyalty to Him and His kingdom, and quickness to do all that He requires.

Quick Understanding in the Fear of the Lord (KJV) is difficult to translate exactly.  The NKJV translated it as “His delight is in the fear of the Lord.”  The Jerusalem Bible translates it as “The fear of Yahweh is his breath.”  This gift fills us with a fresh and living delight to serve the Lord.  It makes us dread sin which separates us from His grace and cling to Him.

In summary, these gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to every believer as the Spirit of God comes to dwell within us at salvation.  They are the very gifts that are necessary for growth in godliness and are ours as a second-birth right.  They make us attentive to the voice of God, tender [not hardened] to the works of God’s grace to transform us, and ultimately move us God-ward making us obedient to the presence and direction of the Spirit of God.  All other New Testament gifts flow out from these.