This post is one of seven reflections on the whole narrative of the Bible as a story of God’s hospitality. To read these posts in order, click here.
For three days the world lies completely empty of welcome, devoid of the hospitable life by whom it had been made. The earth trembles, the sun fades, and God’s house begins to tear itself apart. The welcome of God had gone head to head against the inhospitality of death, and latter seems to have won.
Until Sunday, when, as suddenly as the universe was first spoken into existence, Jesus bursts back into life. One by one, he had taken on each of the different ways hostility smothers hospitality, finally fighting and defeating the deepest inhospitality—death—once and for all.
And what does this newly resurrected Jesus do now? He goes back to what he had been doing: welcoming people.
He comforts a grieving friend.
He eats with a couple strangers.
He invites a doubter to touch him.
He makes breakfast for the man who denied him.
And with each of these acts of hospitality, Jesus’s true identity is revealed. Only after they’ve been welcomed does each of these people realize exactly who is welcoming them.
But the welcome of the resurrected Jesus extends so far beyond a warm meal and a comforting touch. He welcomes people into life, into God’s eternal hospitality. With the hostile emptiness of death now overcome, the invitation into everlasting life becomes tangible. Suddenly, there’s an alternative to the inhospitality which had for so long enslaved the world. Just as with the Hebrews in Egypt, God welcomes humanity out of captivity and into a new land, a kingdom in which all people from every nation are welcome.
But even that isn’t the full extent of Jesus’ hospitality. Much like the first moment the man and woman met God, Jesus invites his friends into new creation and divine hospitality, not as mere recipients but as full participants. He gives them his mission as their own, commissioning them to go out and extend his welcome to the world.
So they go, armed not with their own hospitality, but with the welcoming breath of Jesus, the Spirit of life.
With their sermons they pass along the welcome they had received to anyone who would accept it, families from every nation.
They invite each other into their homes, share meals together daily, and give everything they own to those who were in need.
They welcome the sick, and they become well.
They welcome Gentiles, and they become part of God’s family.
They welcome slaves, and they become their brothers.
They welcome women, and they became their sisters.
They even welcomed shame and death, knowing that hostility and estrangement no longer rule the day. Through the resurrection of Jesus, the pain of rejection has become the conduit of new creation. The inhospitality of death has been swallowed up by the hospitality of Life.
For further, better reading, I suggest the book of Acts.