18 The Lord appeared to Abraham near the large trees of Mamre. Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent. It was the hottest time of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. So he quickly left the entrance to his tent to greet them. He bowed low to the ground. 3 He said, “My lord, if you are pleased with me, don’t pass me by. 4 Let me get you some water. Then all of you can wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat to give you strength. Then you can go on your way. I want to do this for you now that you have come to me.” “All right,” they answered. “Do as you say.” 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick!” he said. “Get about 36 pounds of the finest flour. Prepare it and bake some bread.” 7 Then he ran over to the herd. He picked out a choice, tender calf. He gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 Then he brought some butter and milk and the calf that had been prepared. He served them to the three men. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
When I read this passage I am torn between two different ways of reading it.
Part of me wants to see Abraham as being able to recognise the 3 men as the members of the trinity, so his response in rushing about to look after them is based on that ability to recognise God, even in an unexpected form.
The other way I read this passage is that Abraham has such an amazing gift of hospitality, that he treats any wandering visitors as though they are lords. (The Hebrew used for “lord” is “adown” which can refer to a human lord or Lord God.
The first way of reading emphasises the nature of discernment and ability to see God moving an unusual way.
The second way of reading emphasises incredible generosity and hospitality.
On reflection, I feel like God is telling me that both are true in a way, and both need to be learned from!
God help me to see you where you are in the places I do not expect and help me to grow in my ability to be extravagantly generous and hospitable. LORD, may You say of me “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:35-36)
Written by Ps. Justin Ware