crippled “Although they cannot repay you, you
SERMON NOTES – THE HOSPITALITY OF
will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous”.
ABRAHAM (GENESIS 18)
We should in other words not use hospitality as a
In today’s short sermon, we consider an incident lever to get personal advantages but seek
when Abraham shows the essence of biblical “treasures in heaven” from blessing the helpless
hospitality. Hospitality can be defined as “friendly and the stranger. We who are unworthy will after
and generous reception of guests and visitors” all feast in heaven! And in the “sheep and the
(Genesis 18:1-9). goats” (Matthew 25), Jesus commands us to serve
We can see a number of ways in which Abraham the needy, friendless and victims of persecution –
models hospitality in this passage. Hospitality is and states that it is a way of serving him. In the
focused on others. Abraham might have preferred same way that Abraham, by serving strangers,
to have a siesta in the intense heat. He initially had ended up serving God.
no idea it was God and two angels – just some Hospitality was crucial in the early church,
strangers unlikely to ever repay his kindness. following Jesus’ example. In the church of Acts
Hospitality is sensitive to guests’ feelings, there were no needy people as “selling their
Abraham wants his guests to think they are doing possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he
him a favour by accepting his hospitality. had need” and “broke bread in their homes and ate
Hospitality has top priority – Abraham rushes together with glad and sincere hearts”. Three
around to prepare the food. And it is lavish. crucial passages from the Epistles are “Share with
Abraham promises “something” and gives them a God’s people who are in need. Practice
feast. hospitality.” (Romans 12:13); “Offer hospitality to
We see that Abraham is blessed in several ways one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9) and
for his kindness and generosity. He encounters “do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so
God in person! He gets news that Sarah and he doing some people have entertained angels
will have a child. And God allows Abraham to without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). See how the
counsel him about the destruction of Sodom, so third one recalls Abraham’s encounter with God!
that Abraham’s nephew Lot is saved. Hospitality is important because we are stewards –
The Old Testament also shows us how the absence disposing generously of the resources God has
of hospitality gives rise to a curse, in 1 Samuel 25 given us. We imitate God, who treats his people
where the miserly Nabal refuses food to David and generously (manna in the desert), and indeed
his men, and he has heart failure shortly provides food to all of rebellious mankind. God
afterwards. Meanwhile Nabal’s wife Abigail who himself is the stranger, as in Abraham, the sheep
does perform hospitality, ends up as one of and the goats – and the Emmaus road (where the
David’s wives. disciples fail to recognise Jesus but offer
hospitality nonetheless). By hospitality we as a
The whole account of Jesus and his teaching in the church can fulfil all of our purposes – worship,
Gospel commends and shows hospitality at work. discipleship, ministry, evangelism and community.
Jesus depended on the hospitality of the rich
women who supported him and his disciples and There can be no higher Christian duty than
also depended on friends for a place to sleep. He offering hospitality. By doing so we love God and
offers hospitality as a guest, for example love our neighbour, fulfilling the greatest
welcoming tax collectors and prostitutes who were commandments. We serve God by serving
excluded from society to eat with him. He mankind.
produces wine miraculously at Cana and feeds the Points for reflection and discussion
5000. He preached about hospitality (the Good
Samaritan, the Rich Man and Lazarus…) and What do you think of the fact that when we serve
encouraged it in his followers (foot washing, the strangers and the needy we serve God? Does it
last supper). He also encountered rejection and give a new perspective on hospitality?
lack of hospitality (in his home town). How does being hospitable feel to you? Pray that
One of Jesus’ most crucial messages on hospitality God shows you new ways to be hospitable.
is the advice on invitations to meals (Luke 14:12- How could our church become more hospitable?
14) where he stresses the need to invite people Why not tell the pastor/deacons any ideas you
who will not invite us back like the poor, lame and have.