As I think of the picture of Jesus as Host, I think of two images primarily:
First of Jesus hosting the last supper, the Passover meal with his friends, where he washed his disciples feet and shared with them that his body was going to be broken and his blood shed, which we remember as Holy Communion. Remembering Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross and his promise of his presence with us, ever present with us, the God who died for us to restore the broken relationship with the Father.
Secondly I remember that story Jesus told about the King inviting people to the banquet but his guests fobbed him off with pathetic excuses, and so he said to welcome in anyone -anyone at all- who would come.
A picture of the wideness of the embrace of Christ, he who ‘opened wide his arms of love about the cross’ that welcomes all to with the invitation of friendship with God.
Have you ever been at a party, then suddenly your ex-girl-friend(or someone you’ve fallen out with) walks in, and you think “oh no what are they doing here?” It is an awful and awkward feeling!
You are both guests and clearly both of you are liked/loved by your host, yet you can’t get on with each other.
Jesus is the host and yet too often the Church is squabbling about the guest list ‘surely you aren’t inviting them?’
As we think of Jesus as Host, it reminds us of who he is, the creator of all things, Almighty God, Lord of All, the name above all names, the Lord of Hosts.
The whole of the creation narrative tells of the Lord of all inviting humanity to himself, the redemption narrative is the story of a costly and sacrificial restoration of the extended embrace of the welcome of God, and our new life in Christ is the paradox of the Lord of all creation choosing to be invited into the lives of those he had created.
As we think of Jesus as host, I am reminded of the picture he choses to paint of the Divine as that of the running Father that meets his Son whilst he was still a long way of, embraces him, and celebrates his return with a party.
Indeed heaven is depicted as a party with Christ as the host, a party where angels celebrate, rejoicing over one sinner who repents.
As we think of Christ as Host we remember that it all belongs to him and is all about him, he is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the first and last, everything is rightfully his, and yet this King of Kings welcomes us in, who are we to criticize the recipients of his love and grace?
This is the difficultly with Christ as host, is that we are included and so is everyone else, including -or even especially- those we find challenging. Christ’s radical hospitality and inclusion caused the religious types to struggle then, and I believe little has changed over the past 2000 years, as the religious types still struggle now!
Jesus as host is one who welcomes and eats with sinners, who instructs his disciples to go out onto the ‘highways and byways and compel them to come!'(Luke 14:23) a God who calls us ‘to his banqueting table and whose banner over us is love’ (Song of Solomon 2:4). Jesus is the host who knows us by name, and calls us by name (Is.43.1) The host who invites us to sit and eat/feast with him for all eternity (Luke 22:30), wanting not a superficial niceties or exchange of formal pleasantries with us but a real, authentic, loving relationship with us. Jesus is the good shepherd -who gives his life for the sheep- and lays a table for us -a generous extravagant and underserved banquet- in which our cup overflows (Psalm 23) which shows something of nature of God as host.
Scripture says “we love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19) which I believe means that our acts of love come not out of our own goodness but rather from the divine DNA within us where the best of humanity points back to its source, God himself, so we are hospitable, welcoming and generous (all out-workings of love) because we reflect and resemble our creator.