Jesus and Airbnb

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”[a]

35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed[b]). 42 He brought Simon[c] to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter[d]).

For the next two weeks we will be examining the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and he would call those who followed him and became the disciples. In this version from John it is a little different than what we think of. We imagine Jesus walking the shores of Lake Galilee and calling the disciples to become fishers of men. Well, that’s next week. This one is very different and why would it not coming from the gospel of John? Many scholars believe that there was a group of people that became known as the Johannine community, those who first followed John the Baptist and then Jesus. Today’s passage is one of the supporting dialogues for this theory. John is the focus at the beginning and tells Andrew that the guy walking toward them is the “Lamb of God”, the one the Spirit came to, and the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. These people are hanging out with John because they believe he is a great prophet and he is. Now, this great prophet is going to point them to the one who is greater than he, the Messiah.

Then an interesting exchange takes place with Andrew and Jesus. The beginning dialogue is on that you would not really expect, but maybe if you were kind of shy and not sure what to say. Jesus turns and sees the following him and asks why they are following him? “What are you looking for”, he asks and they reply first calling him “rabbi” which means teacher and then they say, “Where are you staying?” Nothing like inviting yourself for dinner, right? Then Jesus says, “Come and See.” And the footnote is added by the author of this gospel that it is around 4:00 p.m. Meaning that it will be dark soon, no lights and electricity so they are being invited to spend the night. It’s a sleep over with Jesus!

Now we don’t know where this is for sure, but many scholars do not believe it is Nazareth. So where is Jesus staying in an Airbnb? Let’s face it if you are traveling it’s usually a cheaper to stay in an Airbnb and it is much more personal that an overpriced hotel room. So, what does Jesus’ guest house look like? It certainly is not his own house. Indications are that he was like many millennials today. He lived with his parents until he was 30.

Perhaps he rented an Airbnb in Capernaum and it is to this house that he invites his new friends.

Or, maybe Mary and Joseph had a rental down by the sea. Probably not.

This is an unusual situation in which Jesus is the host.

Other times, he is the guest or he’s inviting himself to someone’s house (Zacchaeus). In Revelation, he’s knocking on the door, trying to wrangle a dinner invitation (3:20).

Here, as the host, he extends the invitation to “come and see.”

But first — before we think about being a guest in Jesus’ house — let’s imagine that Jesus is a guest in our house. What would that look like? First, there’s no problem with the wine. As long as we have a nice bottle of Perrier, Voss or Evian, Jesus can take care of the rest.

But we’d need to make sure there’s bread. And what about furniture? Do we eat on the floor? Foot-washing? “Uh, Jesus, generally we just try to wash our hands before the meal … with soap.”

And we’d want to find Grandma’s Bible, and dust it off and have it lying around casually on a table … with a bookmark in it, maybe even opened to John 3.

Put up a cross? Maybe. Could be touchy … bad taste? Gaming consoles? Pull out that game about the Pharisees and Sadducees, called Broods of Vipers — the one with tombs full of dead people’s bones. Jesus might like to play that one.

Setting the table. Plate ware, silverware.

Conversation. What do we talk about? “Hey, did you catch that chariot race?” The weather? Or small talk? “So, you were born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, eh?”

What to eat? Oh, you have some leftover fish (2?) and five slices of bread. Perfect! Wash it down with a nice shiraz. And olives. Everything about olives.

Olive oil. But avoid “virgin” or “extra virgin.” Maybe black out those words with a magic marker. Can’t be too careful. Maybe not necessary.

Figs. Crackers and hummus. Falafel?

Would you play cards? Maybe not, given how he knows everything …

And would you pray? Do you even know the Lord’s Prayer? How awkward to have a brain cramp at the wrong time. You don’t want to sound like Sister Clarissa in Sister Act. “Bless us, oh Lord, and these thy gifts … and, yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of no food, I shall fear no hunger. We want you to give us this day our daily bread … and to the republic for which it stands … by the power vested in me, I now pronounce us, ready to eat. Amen.”

What would you wear? Anything as long as it’s long and covers everything …

What, on the other hand, would we do if we were invited as a guest into Jesus’ home?

This, then, might be a structure you could slide into: When Jesus is host.

In the gospels, Jesus is host three times. The first time is in this text before us today. He tells two of his future disciples to “come and see” where he’s staying.

The next time is when he gathers his disciples together for what we now call the Last Supper. The first hosting experience was at the start of his ministry; the second, just before he died.

On this second occasion, the disciples asked Jesus what they were going to do about Passover. Jesus said to Peter and John, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it” (Luke 22:8).

And finally, there is a post-resurrection scene in Galilee in which Jesus hosts a fish breakfast: “12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. (John 21:12).

So, Jesus is host three times: (1) When Jesus calls the disciples: (2) before Jesus lays down his life; and (3) before he leaves this earth.

First hosting experience (Capernaum): Key words: “Come and see.”

Second hosting experience (Last Supper): Key words: “Go and prepare.”

Third hosting experience (Galilee): Key words: “Come and dine.”

This provides the structure for the sermon you’re preparing: Jesus wants to be our host. Will we accept his invitation to “come and see,” “go and prepare” and “come and dine”? It’s a fabulous invitation and the experience empowering and enriching.

When Jesus says to Peter and Andrew, “Come and see,” he establishes a motif for our ministry as Christians, and the message for the work of the church. It is an essentially inviting and welcoming ministry.

This is what the church does. It invites and it welcomes.

This is who Christians are. They are inviting and welcoming.

We don’t coerce; we commend.

We don’t impose; we invite.

We don’t wrestle and wrangle; we welcome.

We don’t threaten; we tempt and tease.

We don’t lampoon; we love.

The mission of the church and our responsibility as followers of Jesus is —

  • not to explain the Apostles’ Creed or the Westminster Confession;
  • not to ask people if they know they are going to heaven;
  • not to ask people to make a pledge;
  • not to tell people to go to the church down the street where they might be more comfortable;
  • not to judge people as to their eternal destiny;
  • not to judge them according to race, gender, political allegiances, sexual orientation, their taste in tattoos or music or what team they’re rooting for in the Super Bowl coming up in two weeks.

Jesus encourages us to follow his example as a host: Be inviting and welcoming. Three words. “Come and see.” This is all that we need to say to those who are seeking a deeper, more meaningful experience of life.

As the Passover drew near, the disciples want to know what Jesus has planned.

Jesus indicates that he will be the host of the Passover meal, but that he needs some help. So, he asks the disciples to help him with transportation and venue. He tells them to “Go and prepare.”

And this is precisely what the disciples do: They find him a donkey and an upper room.

In Luke, his specific instructions are, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it” (22:8). In other words, not only are we to welcome others to the meal, we are asked to prepare the meal itself!

Jesus is the host. But we’re in the kitchen.

Jesus has done the shopping. But we’re doing the cooking.

We have the ingredients, but we have to prepare the meal.

Too often, the meal we invite others to sample is not too tasty. Perhaps it’s dry, under-cooked, over-cooked, stale, unfamiliar (Ever been overseas and to a seafood restaurant? “I’m not eating that!”), odiferous, bland, over-salted or too spicy.

Jesus asks us to “Go and prepare.” This is an invitation to thoughtful consideration of what our guests will need and appreciate.

One interesting note: Jesus asks us to “Go and prepare,” and he also says that he, in turn, will “Go and prepare.” See John 14:3. He will go and prepare “a place for you.” It’s not exactly quid pro quo, but the implication is clear: “You go and prepare and I will go and prepare a place for you.”

Finally, Jesus acts as host in Galilee when he invites his disciples to a fish breakfast.

This call to “come and dine” is the logical, third step in the discipleship process. First, we invite; then we prepare the meal; and now, we call people to dinner — to sit down and partake of the fellowship and nutrients that will feed their souls and more.

It is the “and more” part that is interesting. It is well-known that many business deals are sealed over dinners. Meals are often occasions when planning, preparation, future-thinking, decisions and proposals are made.

It is no different here. Jesus is handing out jobs.

The most challenging interview is with Peter. As they’re munching on tilapia, Jesus asks Peter about his future employment plans.

You know how this goes. After a brief period of confusion, Peter gets his commission. He will “feed the sheep and the lambs” and it will cost him his life.

Jesus invites us to have a meal with him. Not just the meal we know as the Eucharistic Meal. The meal we have with Jesus is, of course, a figurative one. It is to enter into an experience of closeness and union with the Lord so that we know his will for us and are strengthened to do it.

In this study, we have taken a look at Jesus. He is more than an Airbnb host, of course. But no doubt when we invite people to come and see, go and prepare and come and dine, they are going to check the reviews. What are other people saying? Five stars? Three stars? Or no stars?

As the host, Jesus shows us how to be welcoming and how to prepare the meal. And, then, we seal the deal: We invite others to “come and dine.” Amen.

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