Continuing our tour through Jesus’ Bible, we learn another lesson today from Abraham. One of Abraham’s great qualities was hospitality, which is certainly a topic for our time. Please take out your Bible and read Genesis 18:1-8.
Before looking at the details of this passage, we need a bit of context. At the end of the previous chapter, God commanded Abraham to circumcise himself and all the men in his household. Originally, the Scriptures were written in a scroll without chapter and verse breaks. Reading chapter 18 from a scroll, we might easily describe God as paying a visit to his friend Abraham who was recovering from a rather painful operation.
Something quite amazing happens at this point. While receiving the presence of God in the door of his tent, Abraham notices three men standing in front of him. Abraham immediately leaves his conversation with God and attends to his guests. He washes their feet and has a lavish meal prepared for them, and even stands while they eat. Assuming that he is in the recovery period from his “operation,” all this activity was performed while in some pain.
The men leave Abraham after discussing a future son who will be born to Sarah, and move on down the road toward Sodom. In verse 17, we realize that God has been kept waiting while Abraham played the host because they now have their famous talk about the fate of Sodom. What do we learn from this? I’m glad you asked.
Page forward in your Bible to the Apostolic Scriptures and read Matthew 25:31-40. Perhaps you have heard—and even believe—humans bear the image of our Creator. According to the words of Jesus in Matthew, by seeing to the needs of these three strangers who bear God’s image, Abraham was in fact doing exactly what God wanted him to do. Abraham was able to look past the fact that he was communing with the Almighty and see the needs of his fellow humans and take care of those needs (we know these “humans” were angels, but Abraham did not know that yet). God may have been left standing at the entrance to the tent, but probably was smiling at the way his servant Abraham understood what needed to be done.
In order to fulfill Jesus’ words in Matthew, we all should be training ourselves to perceive others the same way that Abraham does. According to Jesus, the two most important commands are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, and strength and the second one is to love your fellow human as yourself. Actually, Jesus only lists one command here in Matthew, because he equates love of God and love of our fellow human being. If we can manage to see the image of the Living God in other people, we will certainly then fulfill these two commands that Jesus taught us. By caring for and showing love to our neighbor we are, in fact, caring for and showing love for God.
Frank Fenton is a lifelong student of the Word of God. He attends the Church of the Messiah in Xenia where he shares teaching duties for the weekly Bible study class, as well as contributing to the congregational teaching.