FWhatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. (Luke 9:4 NASB)
If the twelve were to go forth with no money in their pockets and nothing with which to barter (and they were), then they would either sleep outdoors or depend upon the generosity of strangers for their lodging. In this verse, it becomes apparent that Jesus expected indoor sleeping facilities, and He expected those facilities to be in homes. The way I imagine it, the twelve, traveling two by two, would enter a town, go to the central gathering place, and start chatting with the people there. Before long, someone might say, "I'd like to hear more about this Jesus. Where are you staying?" The disciples would admit they didn't yet have plans, and their new-found friend might say, "I've got room. You can stay at my house." When that happened, and it would, they were to go. If it were a palace, they were to stay there. If it were a hovel, they were to stay there. The palace would be wonderfully inviting, and they were welcome to stay there, but only if it were the first place they stayed. They were not to shop the proffered hospitality to find the most comfortable resting place. Sometimes, a hovel just might be the divine appointment God had planned.
Hovels are not our favorite dwelling, are they? Sometimes, we look at the meagerness of a home and fail to see the beauty of the God who abides within. That hovel may be nothing more than the refining fire of God in the life of His beloved or simply a matter of priority. Regardless, if they were placed in less-than-ideal housing, they were to remain until they moved to another town. There was to be no swapping around.
You can well imagine what could happen. The two disciples would enter a town, preach the Good News, heal a few people, and become instant celebrities. Suddenly, everyone would want the honor of hosting them. The temptation to go to the biggest house, the nicest accomodations, would be very real. Jesus dealt with that temptation right away. Don't do it. Stay at the first place you go. No swapping around.
One of the things this allowed was the development of relationships. Moving around might increase exposure to more people, but staying put would allow more intimate times and encourage greater growth in Christ for their host. When the disciples moved to the next town, their host would remain, equipped with the truth they had learned from their guests, able to continue what they had begun.
The disciples were just passing through. Anywhere they stayed was temporary housing. The truth of the matter is that we are also "just passing through", heading toward our heavenly home. One day, we will live in our eternal home and it will be our ideal place. Until then, it is all simply temporary housing. Along the way, we, like the disciples, need to abide in the place where God places us, sharing the Good News of Jesus until He moves us along.
For the disciples, the going, the staying, and the moving on were all part of the journey. There was specific obedience for every part, and specific blessings, too. The destination, however, was neither the first place they stayed, nor the last. The destination was the return to Jesus when they would share with Him the joy they had found in the journey He had planned.
As we go through our day, remember that we are pilgrims heading toward an eternal destination. Be patient with every stop along the way, for our Lord has a plan for each part of the journey. One day, we will understand it all, see the purpose in it all. For now, we are not called to understanding but to faithfulness. If we obey and trust His provision, what Joy we will find at the end of the road!
Enjoy the journey!