Much of the Kingdom activity of Jesus and the early church was centered around homes.
Jesus – Mark 1:29-35, Mt 8:14, Lk 4:38, Matthew 9:9-12, 13:1-52, 17:24-27, 26:1-13, Mark 2:1-11, 7:17-23, 9:1-28, 33-50, 10:10, 14:3, Luke 7:36-39, 8:41-56, 10:38, 14:1-24.
Early Church – Acts 2:2, 46, 5:42, 8:3, 9:11-19, 10:1-8, 16:40, 18:1-10, 20:20, 21:8, 30, Col 4:15, Philemon 2, Romans 16:5 “Greet Prisca and Aquila and the church that meets in their house.”
Did their activity center around homes because there were no religious buildings to use? Obviously not because there were synagogues and public buildings all around Jesus, Paul, and the early church and they used them. I think one important reason homes were frequently used had to do with the nature of God and what He is building, a family.
The accounts of Jesus sending the twelve and the seventy to labor in the harvest (Luke 9-10 and Matthew 9-11) presents amazing instruction and context of how God wants us to engage in mission as we are sent. On phrase that expresses this is “God’s Family together on mission.” It is God’s family on earth, connected with His family in heaven (Father, Son, Spirit Jn 17:21-23), sent on His mission in the earth.
If we look at Mt 9-11 and Luke 9-10 we see an amazing family relational context. He sent them out “in pairs” with a fellow family member. The rest of the family would join them later.
Luk 9:4 “Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city...10:1-10 Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself (He and the others) was going to come....(5) “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ (6) “If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. (7) “Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house…eat what is set before you; (9) and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you. (Matthew 10:11…stay there until you depart).
He tells them to look for houses with people who were receptive. If found they were to enter into that home (not moving from house to house), eat what is set before them, serve and bring blessing, and base their Kingdom missional work there.
Homes Represented Households
Why does He tell them not to move from house to house? One reason has to do with developing a sense of family and relationships. A house represents more than just a physical structure. Homes are usually connected to relational circles of life. This is what the Bible calls a “household.” It was friends, family members, and associates. By entering into a home they were really entering into a web of relationships. We see an example of this with Peter entering into Cornelius’ house and impacting his whole household Act 11:12-14 “…he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’
Most statistics regarding evangelism reveals that the majority of people hear the gospel and receive Jesus through a close friend or relative. When one person gets saved they instinctively begin to share it with their family and close friends (household). Often when one person finds Christ it like pulling a loose string on a sweater. You don’t always know where it will stop. The influence on one person will tend to spread through their household.
Spirituality of Eating
This home based emphasis also lies behind His instruction to “eat what is set before you.” Some have a hard time seeing food as being relevant or connected to Kingdom activity. When you visit other cultures food creates a hospitable and relational atmosphere. In almost every culture if someone offers you food they are generally offering friendship and relationship. If you reject food you are doing far more than saying you don’t want to eat. You are rejecting the opening of relationships.
In the Gospels you see a lot of Jesus’ activity around dinner tables. His mission strategy often included a long meal stretching into the evening. He often did teaching, evangelism, and discipleship around a table. In most of Luke’s Gospel Jesus is either on His way to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal. In fact Jesus did so much around meals that it caused His detractors to accuse Him of being a glutton Luke 7:34.
- Luke 5 Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi.
- Luke 7 Jesus is anointed at the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal.
- Luke 9 Jesus feeds the five thousand.
- Luke 10 Jesus eats in the home of Martha and Mary.
- Luke 11 Jesus condemns the Pharisees and teachers of the law at a meal.
- Luke 14 Jesus is at a meal when he urges people to invite the poor to their meals rather than their friends.
- Luke 19 Jesus invites himself to dinner with Zacchaeus.
- Luke 22 Account of the Last Supper.
- Luke 24 The risen Christ has a meal with the two disciples in Emmaus, and then later eats fish with the disciples in Jerusalem.
As God’s family together on mission we need to connect with people in the context of homes and households. Biblical hospitality is a key (Rom 12:13, 1 Tim 5:10, Heb 13:2). When we invite people to enter into our homes it is often a step towards entering into their households. Lets get out of the pews/buildings and into the mission field of homes.
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