Summary: Exposition of Acts 28:11-16 about the hospitality shown to the Apostle Paul on his last few weeks of being transported to Rome
Text: Acts 28:11-16, Title: Xenophobia, Date/Place: NRBC, 10/11/09, AM
A. Opening illustration: Clark Griswold’s determination to have a good old fashion family Christmas, the story of Maria with eight children in El Salvador in wartime, and the four eggs
B. Background to passage: After recovering from the shipwreck, ministering to the natives of Malta, the crew decides the time is right to sail on to Rome. It was probably about February in 60 AD. The next five or six verses of the last chapter of Acts are basically a travel log, recording the stops along the home stretch to Rome. So they bounce from shore to shore, all the while the Apostle knowing that Rome, and possibly death, awaits him. And the one thing that sticks out in the whole account is the hospitality shown by the believers in these scattered cities to a virtually unknown missionary.
C. Main thought: So today I want to think about biblical hospitality.
A. Hospitality involves risk (v. 14)
1. In this verse, Luke says that they “found brethren.” And they were invited to stay with them seven days. Biblically, hospitality is defined as: demonstration of God’s love through a voluntary act of kindness or service to an individual or group who is not regarded as extended family or close friend. In fact the Greek word is philoxenos which means literally lover of strangers. These Christians in Puteoli, who never met Paul, invited the mission team to stay with them for a week. In the second and third century, there were many writings about using caution when giving hospitality to “brethren passing through.” There was risk.
3. Illustration: the preparations at my house for 4-5 overnight guests for a week would be great, can you imagine spur of the moment? Conversation we had in our triad just a couple weeks ago about how we all used to pick up hitchhikers and give them a lift, but not anymore. “Give me you tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” but our fear has caused us to give in to a selfish spirit of self-protection and self-preservation, tell about 4-year old Josh, and the guy next door, “but mom, he is not a stranger, that’s Bob.”
4. So things you get paid for don’t count. Things that you do because of obligation don’t count. Things that you do for people who are family or friends don’t count. “The hospitality of today, by which is mean the entertainment of friends and relatives, hardly comes within the biblical use of the term as denoting a special virtue.” Jesus is our example; the friend of sinners. The wretched Samaritan is our example. There is risk that we might be rebuffed, or taken advantage of, or harmed, or inconvenienced. And also be reminded to refuse hospitality because of risk is to refuse Jesus himself; and possibly to miss entertaining an angel. But we are to graciously seek justice on behalf of the downtrodden and provide for them out of our abundance. But most of us are xenophobic.
B. Hospitality requires sacrifice (v. 15)
1. What happens in between Puteoli and Rome is quite amazing. The crew had about a five day walk from there, and when believers in Rome heard that Paul was coming, they went out to meet him. They didn’t just greet him at the door, or even at the outskirts of the city, but they walked about 43 miles (at least 3 days journey one way) just to meet him, and escort him back into town! Biblical people went to great lengths to serve guests and other believers. There was no expense too great, no appointment too important, no neighbor too asleep. The comfort and safety of guests became top priority.
2. Luke 10:38, 11:5-6, Gen 19:2-3, 8
3. Illustration: “the traveler is made the literal master of the house during the stay; his host will perform for him the most servile offices, and will not even sit in the presence of his guest without explicit request…the host is duty bound to defend his guest against any intruders.” Margaret letting Tory come and stay, the host the other night in Cordele at the Pastor’s social having that nice place and having to drive us home,
4. Many times went just can’t seem to work others into our schedule. I am guilty of it, scheduling lunch with people weeks out, and not following through. It may cost us money to show hospitality. It may cost us time. It may cost us sleep, or our routines, or our favorite TV show, or much effort. Most of us don’t walk 40 miles to meet up with a preacher whom we’ve never met. Think about it from their perspective. When was the last time you sacrificed for someone not a close friend or family? What if we had a reputation of showing a biblical hospitality for strangers in Tifton? What if we intentionally set aside time to practice hospitality within our church and outside of it? At the core, it is not that we are afraid of strangers, as much as we are very self-centered—our family, our agenda, our time, our money…