Summary: God Is At Your Door 1) Serve him. 2) Listen to him.
What kind of people came knocking at your door this past week? Neighborhood kids? Deliverymen? Family? Was there anyone you were surprised to see? In our sermon text this morning Abraham received three unexpected visitors: two angels and the Lord himself! What would it be like to have God pop in for a visit? Would you throw the door wide open to him, or nervously ask him to wait on the porch while you tidy up the house? The fact is God is at your door. Jesus said in the book of Revelation, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3:20). What does it mean for you that God is at your door? To answer that question let’s take a look at what the Old Testament believer Abraham did when God came to his door.
Our text unfolds as Abraham was sitting in the doorway to his tent during the heat of the day. Perhaps he was mulling over the new names God had bestowed upon him and his wife. He was no longer to be known as Abram but Abraham, which means “exalted father.” And his wife was no longer to be called Sarai but Sarah, which means “princess.” Both names reminded the couple that through them God would establish a great nation, a nation from which kings would come, including the King of kings, Jesus, who would save the world from sin.
Perhaps because he was lost in thought Abraham didn’t notice right away the three men standing a little ways off. They were strangers and therefore the protocol of the day dictated that they not approach the tent until invited to do so. When Abraham finally noticed them standing there with the mid-day sun beating down on their heads he leapt to his feet and hustled over to the traveling party. Once in front of them he bowed low to the ground and said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant” (Genesis 18:3-5).
Don’t you like the way that Abraham greeted these strangers? Though he was rich and powerful and used to people serving him, Abraham did not think it beneath him to bow before these strangers and offer his services. And boy, did Abraham ever serve! Once he seated his guests and provided water for them to wash their feet, he ran to his wife Sarah and asked her to make bread. Then he went to his herd where he picked out a calf that would provide the tenderest meat for his guests. This was quite a treat because meat was usually only served on festive occasions. When all was prepared, Abraham stood off to the side ready to attend to his guests’ needs like a waiter at an expensive restaurant might do.
If we think that Abraham went a bit overboard in his hospitality perhaps we need to adjust our standards. God did not create us human beings to bounce off one another like billiard balls; he created us to serve and to care for each other. Sure, Abraham was serving the Lord himself but he didn’t seem to know it at the time. Anyway this is how we are to treat each other: as if we are serving Jesus. Our Savior once said: “I tell you the truth, whatever you [do] for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you [do] for me” (Matthew 25:40).
Think about that next time Mom asks you to do the dishes or take out the garbage. Do those chores as if you are serving Jesus himself. Or when you hear that someone is sick, let that person know that you’re praying for them and take the God-given opportunity to stop by with a meal, or send a card. And don’t just be humble and generous in your service towards family and friends; be helpful to strangers as well. For example when you’re out shopping and see that some item has fallen off the shelf, don’t just steer your shopping cart around it, pick it up and put it back. Friends, God is not just at your door, he’s at the playground, he’s at the office, he’s at the mall. He’s everywhere giving us countless opportunities to show our love for him by serving others.
But in our Gospel lesson where Jesus visited the house of Mary and Martha, our Lord made it clear that serving him is only part of what he wants us to do when he comes to our door. He also wants us to listen to him as did Mary. That truth is also evident in our Old Testament sermon text. When God stopped by to visit Abraham it wasn’t to see what kind of host Abraham was. No, God had stopped by to strengthen Abraham and Sarah’s faith. When the meal was done God said: “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son” (Genesis 18:10).