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Given to Hospitality…or Not

Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house.” And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. 

 Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you (Luke 10:4-9).

English: Engraving of a woman with a water jug...

English: Engraving of a woman with a water jug, seen from the back. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Jesus sent the disciples on this particular evangelistic trip, He told them to travel light and to stay with hospitable folks along the way. For the disciples to stay with others was not considered an imposition. Showing kindness to strangers was a custom since the time of Moses.[1] Travelers depended on the hospitality of others because there weren’t many commercial places to stay or to buy food and water. Cities were built near water sources, and that’s where travelers looked for a place to refresh. God established laws to help strangers and aliens that hearkened back to the time when Israel was a stranger in Egypt. “Love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut. 10:19). Showing hospitality filled a need in ancient Israel because everyone made a journey at some time—a kind of you help me and I’ll help you.

The fate of a “dusted” city

But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, “The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.” But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city (Luke 10:10-12).

Not every city was hospitable to strangers, especially not to those bringing a new religious message. Jesus knew that elders in some towns would not allow the disciples to enter. A city that refused to admit a disciple of Jesus had in essence refused to hear a message from God. A rejection of the good news brought consequences. As a near-term consequence, that city was “dusted.” As a long-term consequence—at the resurrection of the dead—that city earned for itself a less tolerable judgment.

For a disciple to wipe off the dust of a city from his clothing was a denunciation of that place. If a city of Israel refused the disciples, that city descended to the level of the heathen, so miserable that its dust defiled those to whom it clung.[2]  Shaking off the dust also symbolized that the disciples hadn’t come to take anything for themselves—not even dust. It was infected with evil. It would some day rise and testify that the city had rejected the Gospel.[3]

Faith to Follow

For the men and women in Jesus’ company, traveling was an exercise in faith. “He and his disciples lived upon the charity of well-disposed people, that ministered to him of their substance.”[4] What must it have been like to live one day at a time in the presence of the Man who really didn’t worry about tomorrow?

 During His three-year ministry, Jesus was “a stranger in his own world; a wanderer.”[5] As He and the disciples went from place to place, they depended on God to provide for them, either miraculously or through the generosity of others.

Do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

 Women Who Served

 A number of women regularly traveled with the twelve disciples and Jesus. The women’s helpful actions “greatly aided Jesus in His missionary activities.”[6] He had cast evil spirits out of three of the women who were often among the traveling group. They subsequently supported His work “from their substance” (Luke 8:2-3). Mary, Joanna and Susanna had money or other material possessions they put toward the needs of the group. Another disciple named Mary, who was the mother of James and Joses, traveled with Jesus and contributed materially to His work.[7] Salome, who was the mother of James and John, accompanied Jesus in Galilee. Later she and other women came with Jesus to Jerusalem.[8]

Two women are mentioned as having hosted Jesus in their homes. Martha of Bethany owned a home and made it a welcome place for Jesus and others with Him. Martha, her sister Mary and her brother Lazarus were close friends of Jesus, and He probably spent many restful hours with them. The mother of John Mark, also named Mary, had a large home in Jerusalem. The upper room where Jesus and the disciples ate the Passover may have been in her home. Mary’s home was a regular gathering place for the disciples (Acts 12:12).

One of the most supportive ways that women served Jesus was by staying with Him during His crucifixion. Among those who attended His last hours were Mary Magdalene, Mary His mother, Salome, and Mary the mother of James and Joses. In grief they stood through His final suffering so He wouldn’t die alone.

The women who traveled with Christ, who opened their homes to Him, who supported His work financially and who stayed with Him until the end, gave what was needed, when it was needed. They were aware, gracious, nurturing, selfless, fearless women who had the privilege of knowing and serving Jesus Christ in the flesh. Theirs is an enduring example of the importance and essence of hospitality.—Mary Hendren


[1] Exodus 23:9, Leviticus 19:33-34, Deuteronomy 10:19

[2] Adam Clarke’s Online Commentary, notes on Matthew 10:14

[3] Gill’s Online Commentary, notes on Matthew 10:14

[4] Matthew Henry Online Commentary, note of Matthew 8:18-20

[5] Barnes Online Commentary, note on Matthew 8:20

[6] All the Women of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer, p.101

[7] Same source, p.106

[8] Mark 15:40-41

About womenfromthebook

Mine is a life-long interest in the women of the Bible, and I enjoy exploring the world in which they lived, and discovering the challenges that they faced. I have enough curiosity about them to last the rest of my life.

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