We are halfway through Lent, and I continue to creatively lean into the people of Scripture to hear the hidden stories. I’ve always been captivated by those people who we catch a mere glimpse of, yet, without them, the story of Christ would be drastically different. This week, I consider the story of the House owner who hosted Jesus and the disciples in his upper room for the Last Supper. I’ve always wondered about this house owner and his gracious hospitality.
Reading from the Book of Luke 22:7-13
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.” They asked him, “Where do you want us to make preparations for it?” “Listen,” he said to them, “when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks you, “Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.” So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
As a growing boy, whenever stories of dreams were retold, my ears perked up. I can remember my father’s voice retelling the story of Joseph. It was one of the first tales to capture my imagination. A favorite son brazen enough to share his self-assured dream with his brothers. As my father recalled how Joseph was the preferred child hated by his brothers, I envisioned the story playing in my mind. I saw Joseph confidently explain, how in his dream, his sheath of wheat stood upright surrounded by other sheaths of wheat that bowed to his sheath. I could sense the brother’s rage as they recognized their role as the bowing sheaths. When Joseph is first thrown into a deep, dry well, then sold to some passing-by traders, deceived by his own kin, my heart broke for him.
Eagerly, I kept listening knowing the ending. As Joseph’s life unfolds in layers, later, in a pivotal turn of events, he is able to use his gift of dreams (and interpretation) to assist Pharoah. This led Joseph to be favored by the him, the ruler of Egypt, ultimately restoring relationship with his brothers! I considered, “If God could use dreams to bring restoration to Joseph’s life, what could he do in mine?”
Joseph’s story was by far, my favorite. However, other stories of dreams remained with me. Jacob’s dream reassured him that God was with him, not in a temple, but right where he slept! The promise of Abraham was breathed into him while he rested; his lineage would continue far and wide. Jacob’s dream whisked me to a place where I considered God’s providence for my life. In addition, Daniel’s dreams urged my curiosity and engaged me to ask questions. When Daniel’s life was spared because of his ability to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams due to his diligent faithfulness, prayer and praise of God, I was in awe of God’s mystery.
When I was thirteen, I remember this the age my own dreams began. At first, I didn’t think much of it. I never believed God would visit me in my sleeping hours. But, one day I found myself remembering Joseph and I wondered, “What if? What if my dreams are a divine treasure waiting to be unearthed?” So, I began to record them. When I awoke and remembered a dream, I wrote a few words, a few symbols down. Over time, slight secrets, common themes and hidden messages drifted from these dreams. Many of these dreams, while strange, had goodness thread through them.
Dreams became a gateway to God. As I learned to listen to my dreams, I learned to understand God in unlikely places. I learned to interpret symbols and signs, as my long ago, ancestor Joseph did. Every now and again, I would receive something in my dreams that prompted me to reach out to a friend or family member. I, by no means was a prophet, just a Jewish man working diligently in faith and life. I never imagined how my ability to recall and understand dreams would challenge my faith.
Word of a special rabbi had made it’s way into our village. This man, named Jesus, proclaimed to be the Son of Man. I, myself, only caught a glimpse of him that day I went to hear him teach in Bethsaida. A throng of us sat on the grass, in small groups, listening eagerly while baskets of bread and fish were passed. It was a day I recalled fondly. But, because I was a local businessman, I rubbed elbows with some of the local Pharisees. I heard their grumblings about this rabbi from them. They feared his teaching and questioned his way. On the other hand, many of my customers shared the good fortune of family members who had received healing from Jesus.
It was the week before the Passover and my house was a bustle of activity readying for the first day. I was reflecting about our ancestor’s being rescued, their eldest son’s lives spared by the hand of God. This was the act of God that freed us from Pharoah; in a mass exodus, our past tribes escaped slavery and fled Egypt. I considered what words I may use this year to tell this critical story. In the meantime, the undertaking was huge to rid our home of all leaven and to clear away our day to day dishes. We always had our Passover feast in the upper room of our home and I had instructed my daughters to begin preparations with comprehensive cleaning and the addition of pillows surrounding the low table.
A few nights before the Passover, the breeze of the Spirit wafted through the dream. I dreamed of a dove and many pigeons gathered in the upper room of my home. The dove was dropping manna as he circled above. The pigeons were greedily eating all they could take in. The dove, in all its glory, rose up and disappeared through a hole in my roof. When I awoke, I wrote what I could remember.
The morning the Feast of Unleavened Bread began, our plans were in motion. My wife was preparing the unleavened bread, my daughters were cutting vegetables and putting together the tart dressing. I sent my teenage son into the city for another jug of water. When he came back, behind him were two strange fellows I had never laid eyes on. They looked at me carefully, with curious eyes. The taller one spoke, “The teacher asks, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ I immediately thought of my dream. I knew in an instant my dream was a sign of this moment. I welcomed them in and walked them upstairs to our prepared room. I left them be, allowing them to ready and use my home as a place for their gathering.
As I walked back downstairs, I felt both humbled, honored and uneasy. Could this teacher really be the Son of God coming to my house? I thought of my Pharisee friends and became concerned for my connection with this rabbi. What could this mean for me and my family’s future? I sensed life would never be the same.
Joseph’s dreams: Genesis 37:1-8, 41
Jacob’s dream: Genesis 28:10-22
Daniel’s interpretation: Daniel 2
Exodus (Passover) story: Exodus 12
Consider looking up one of these references this week at www.biblegateway.com. Do you believe dreams may be a gateway to God? Have you ever felt prompted to act because of a dream?
With a Child:
Are you able to remember your dreams? What is a favorite dream you remember? Have you ever dreamt of something more than once?
Consider keeping a notebook near your bed. When you awake and remember your dream, jot down the details you remember. Attempt this regularly and notice if any themes, symbols, signs arise for you.