“So He went in to stay with them. When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.” Luke 24:29-31
Middle Eastern / Bedouin hospitality is ancient and amazing. Not only do I have dear memories of experiencing it in the Saharawi camps in the Sahara Desert, but I have also experienced in the culture of Israel.
Luke’s account of Jesus’ story of “the hospitality of strangers” as He traveled to Galilee after His crucifixion and resurrection is a clear picture of Bedouin hospitality. He was on a main traveling road, (Emmaus Road) leaving Jerusalem and heading to His home region of the Galilee. He began walking along with two strangers, who were talking about the things they had learned of Jesus’ crucifixion and reported resurrection. Not divulging who He was, Jesus joined their conversation in such a way that the two travelers invited Him to join them for a meal at their home. Jesus accepted, and that evening they realized Who He really was.
Bedouin hospitality still exists. I have experienced it throughout the 20+ years of spending time with the Saharawi people in the desert. I have never experienced a time when I was not warmly invited into a refugee home/tent, and treated like royalty. No questions asked. With absolute Grace, there was a hidden scramble going on . . . children being sent to neighboring tents to find plates, silverware, glasses, cups, and food items. All for the strangers. What was presented to us (after LOTS of rounds of tea), was a lovely, artistic display of food, love, and amazing hospitality. It was years before I learned the truth of how much rushing and work was going on behind the scenes in order to treat their “strangers / guests” as was their culture.
Jesus enjoyed a large meal (with lots of men to feed on short notice!) in the home of Cleopas, speaking to all the men who gathered around the table to meet and hear this Guest. His Guest was speaking Words of Life and Truth. Life-changing Truth.
How are you doing in the area of welcoming and inviting Jesus “in” to your daily activity (like a walk along your road), and into your home? Is He a Present Guest at your table? Is He welcome when it’s “just the family”. . . or when it’s an evening with friends? Does He have anything to say? Are you poised to listen?
Cleopas was a man of influence and the head of his family. He made the invitation for Jesus to come into his personal world. And he included others as well.