"He will take you to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal."
Mark 14:15, NLT
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal with you?”
So Jesus sent two of them into Jerusalem with these instructions: “As you go into the city, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.”
So the two disciples went into the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.
Mark 14:12-16, NLT
When I think of Biblical hospitality, I always think of the story of Mary and Martha opening their home to Jesus. Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, and Martha was concerned about making things perfect for Jesus. She was too busy running around to enjoy God's presence.
Sometimes in our own lives we are too busy running around and cleaning up house to truly experience Jesus' presence. Spiritually, we may end up focusing so intently on cleaning up house (our hearts that is) with our own actions, that we haven't even realized we aren't in His presence. Our own actions could never fully clean up house anyways... Only His presence will truly cleanse us.
Let us reflect on this Passover preparation. As many times as I have read the scripture about Jesus' Passover meal, I’ve never wondered about the person who opened his home. This passage leaves me with a lot of questions.
Did the owner of the house know Jesus? I wonder if he followed his teachings. Did Jesus make prior arrangements to use his guest room? Was it customary to just open your home to people during the Festival of Unleavened Bread? Maybe this time of celebration encouraged an attitude of hospitality. Did the Holy Spirit prepare the owner of the house, and he set up the guest room for them as a result of this personal encounter? Was the owner perhaps just naturally hospitable? I wonder about this man's character.
The scripture says the room was prepared already. For the owner himself or for Jesus? Was the owner of the house involved in the preparation of the meal with the disciples? What an honor that would have been.
We do not know these answers. And since these questions are not answered in scripture, they must not be drastically important to the overall story. But there are still details we can draw from.
This individual who allowed the disciples in was already prepared for a visit of some sort. Regardless of who he expected to have as guests, his table was set. He was prepared for Jesus' presence (regardless of whether he knew it would be a literal or spiritual presence). This owner was prepared.
How prepared are we for the presence of Jesus in our hearts and homes? Are we continuously preparing to be ready when he arrives, waiting in anticipation of his arrival to invite him in? Now I know Jesus' disciples will not literally show up at our door to request a room. But daily, we have the decision in our thoughts and actions to invite Jesus' presence into our hearts and homes. Every person we invite in to our home will experience whatever we have prepared for them. So are we prepping for Jesus' presence to be experienced in our home with others? Our hearts need to be focused on Jesus and interacting with Jesus in order to invite him in. We must be in his presence to share his presence.
When I reflect on this passage, I have to wonder what would happen if someone had asked me to give my guest room to Jesus and all 12 of his disciples.
Would I go crazy like Martha, trying to make sure everything was right? Would I be prepared in advance like the owner of this house? Regardless of whether the owner knew Jesus was coming or not, he was ready. We also ought to be ready to metaphorically 'host Jesus'. May we consistently prepare in advance to invite Jesus in.
There may not be a lot we know about this story, but there is plenty to draw from. May we always be willing to invite Jesus and his disciples into our homes. May we always prepare for his presence. May we invite others into that presence.
Our society is much different than in Jesus time; however, I think we are still called to hospitality by sharing our homes and lives with others. Whether it's a planned event or last minute, I want to be as willing as this man was to open my doors widely to others. Lead us in the spirit of hospitality LORD.
Devotional written by Debbie Gray and Heather Christy. Graphic designed by Daniel Christy.