In Acts 2, Luke describes the results of Peter’s preaching at Pentecost when three thousand souls “gladly received his word and were baptized” (vs. 41). In verse 46-47 he says this about their hospitality: “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
Matthew Henry says this about first-century Christian hospitality: “They brought the comforts of God’s table along with them to their own which had two good effects upon them: It made them very pleasant and enlarged their hearts with holy joy; it made them very liberal to their poor brethren and enlarged their hearts in charity. They welcomed the poor to their tables, not grudgingly, but with all the hearty freedom imaginable.”
I love the idea of importing God’s hospitality to us at His table into our own homes. God is the author of all hospitality, having called us to sit down with Him as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. And what a good connection for us to make when we are welcoming others to our tables, especially when it is our own family members.
God prepares for us, invites us, provides for us, and welcomes us to His table. When we have a sense of the inestimable gift He has given us in Christ, it transforms our perspective on our own table fellowship. It enlarges our hearts with holy joy, liberality, and charity.
The new Christians in Acts 2 ate their meat “with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God.” They were happy guests, eager and grateful, rejoicing around the table. They had, as Henry says, “hearty freedom” and enjoyed unity and peace with one another which spilled over into praise to God. Sounds like the perfect table to me.
Hopefully, we can all relate to this, and we’ve enjoyed such “hearty” joyful fellowship around our own tables. But if not, what hinders us? How can we get there? We should start back at the beginning. How are we enjoying our fellowship with God around His table? Are we reluctant? Do we draw near fearfully? Do we feel unworthy and so pull away? Do we go too hastily and forget what we are about?
God calls sinners to Himself. We are, as it turns out, sinners. Christianity is the religion for us! We confess our sins, and we come. Do we confess them perfectly? No. But (as my husband reminded us in last week’s sermon), Jesus has repented perfectly for us in His baptism by John the Baptist. Our repentance is pretty lame, but we look to Jesus who repented for us perfectly. In Christ, God accepts us, receives us, and adopts us as His own.
The Lord’s Supper is not a reward for being good. It is part of our privilege as redeemed sons of God to sit down with Him and enjoy fellowship with Him. Our joy at being included on God’s guest list results in us throwing a party to celebrate. Every day. Our gratitude spills over to our own tables as we welcome our toddlers and teenagers and parents and siblings and guests to sit down with us. We receive one another; we serve one another. We break the bread, we drink the wine. We love one another with lowliness and singleness of heart.