Friday 04 February 2011

Bible Book:

"Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it." (vv. 1-2)

Hebrews 13:1-8 Friday 4 February 2011


In the final chapter of this letter to the Hebrews, the writerturns from theology (what we believe and why) to application (howwe should live in the light of what we believe). 

Following a general exhortation to love, the writer suggests anumber of particular ways to show this love - through hospitality,prison-visiting, care for the tortured, marital fidelity andresisting the love of money. Perhaps there were specific reasons inthe local situation why these examples were chosen, although all ofthem are still relevant to Christians trying to live in today'sworld, combining as they do practical expressions of our love forothers with our most intimate and personal conduct andmotivation.

'Entertaining angels without knowing it' is an intriguing idea. Itmay recall a number of Old Testament stories (Abraham and SarahinGenesis 18; Samson's parents in Judges13) and even Gospel incidents, most famously the supper on theEmmaus Road (Luke 24:13-35) where the offer of hospitalityfrom Cleopas and his friend led to them entertaining not angels,but Jesus himself. Maybe it also still happens, both supernaturallyand naturally, when someone is in just the right place at the righttime to guide or help us, or when an unexpected guest (possiblyeven invited rather grudgingly) can turn out to be a real messengerof God and bring great blessing. 

For the writer to the Hebrews, faithful discipleship is bound toshow itself in daily living; 'good deeds' are always supported, andeven made possible, by our faith; contentment and freedom fromgreed come through believing that God has promised always to bepresent. In verse 6 the psalmist is quoted to support thisprinciple (Psalm 118:6); with the Lord as our helper, wehave no cause to fear what anyone can do. 

The passage ends with another glance backwards - remember those whofirst spoke the word of God to you and imitate them - and then thepast and present and, indeed, the future are drawn together in asuccinct statement of faith, perhaps the best-known verse in thisletter, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever"(verse 8). So there's another reason to stay faithful. 

To Ponder

When are the times when you may have "entertainedangels unawares"? What happened?

In your own life, how far is the practicaloutworking of faith bound up with what you believe as it seems tobe for the writer to the Hebrews?

If Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today andforever, what does that say about change and how we should dealwith it?

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