|Strangers, Guests, and Hosts in the Bible
In the Bible, offering hospitality is a moral imperative. God’s people remember that they were once strangers and refugees who were taken in by God (Deuteronomy 10:19). How might this memory make someone respond to a stranger or a refugee? What would it mean to “love the alien as yourself” (Leviticus 19:34) in your own community or nation?The Greek word xenos means “stranger”, but also “guest” and “host”. From xenos comes the New Testament word for hospitality: philoxenia means a love of the guest/stranger or enjoyment of hosting guests. Recall a time when you experienced the enjoyment of being a host… when you were the guest of a gracious host.
Do you notice how whenever Jesus shares meals with others, “guests” become “hosts” and “hosts” become “guests”? Contemplate the role reversals that occur in the story of the wedding feast at Cana (John 2:1-11). What happens when Jesus is ‘hosted’ by Zaccheus (Luke 19:1-10)? When Jesus comes as a guest to Martha (Luke 10:38-42), what does he teach her about hosting? How might guests end up as hosts, giving us the gift of their presence? What happens when an act of hospitality not only welcomes strangers, but also recognizes their holiness?