Never in human history has there existed a more loving, compassionate, and hospitable man than our beloved Master, Jesus Christ. A special story in the Gospel of Matthew illustrates this:
When Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food” (Matthew 14:14, 15).
Humanly speaking, what the disciples said sounds logical: “Send them away.” After all, no one was prepared to meet such a great need, or at least that’s what they thought. But Jesus had other plans.
“They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat” (v. 16).
I can only imagine the disciples looking at Jesus in disbelief, mystified at what their Master had just said. They knew Jesus was serious. But what were they going to do to feed such a crowd?
And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” He said, “Bring them here to Me” (vv. 17, 18).
Though the easiest thing would have been to dismiss the people and solve the problem, Jesus, because of His love and kindness, wanted to feed them.
Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children (vv. 19-21).
We must take the teaching and ministry of Jesus seriously. Seeing that crowd, tired, thirsty and hungry, He compassionately met their needs. Some were sick and He healed them. Some were tired and He gave them rest. Some were hungry and He fed them until they were satisfied.
This is what I call first-class hospitality!
What a wonderful lesson Jesus taught His disciples, and us, on the ministry of hospitality.
We normally think of sharing hospitality within the body of Christ, as the apostle Peter mentions: “Be hospitable toward one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9). Without complaining! How we need to do this, because what we live inside reflects in our attitudes and actions toward other believers. The truth is, sharing hospitality is a blessing and a joy — not just for the one who receives but also for the one who gives.
But hospitality should go well beyond the four walls that limit our small homes and churches.
“Do you see all these people?” Jesus says to us. “They are sick, tired, thirsty, and hungry. Go and help them!”
“Us? Me?” we reply.
“Yes, you! Stop looking around to see if anyone else is going to do it. You go ahead and feed them!”
“But Lord, there are so many of them, and we do not have enough. . . .”
This is where we must pay close attention to what Matthew’s story teaches us: We have exactly what people need! The five loaves and two fish the disciples offered to the Lord were just enough.
As in Jesus’ time, many people today are sick, tired, hungry, and thirsty. And many of us say, as the disciples did, “Lord, let them go home. They can meet their own needs.”
The voice of Jesus still resounds as firm and as strong as it did back then: “You feed them! You give them a place to rest, and give them something to drink.” We know that when Jesus speaks, we cannot ignore it, because we Christians are the ones who can impact the world in the name of Christ.
This world is hungry — hungry to know the truth that finds its fullness only in the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ: “And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger . . .” (John 6:35).
This world needs rest for its weary and hopeless souls: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
This world is thirsty. It’s a thirst that can only be quenched by the Living Water: “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
You and I have exactly what this world needs: Jesus! He is the only Bread that can satisfy their hunger. He is the only source of Living Water that can quench their thirst. And only He is the Refuge where souls find rest and healing.
Hospitality needs only two things: someone in need and someone willing to meet that need. We cannot ignore the hurting crowds gathering outside our comfortable homes and churches. Let us heed Jesus’ command.