On the sombre night of our Lord's betrayal, when the entire world was against Him, and when it seemed that every door was bolted and barred to prevent His entering, there was a spot which He called "the guest chamber" where He could have His disciples as His guests, shut in with Him. There might have been other guest chambers in Jerusalem, and doubtless there were, but only in the guest chamber could the company of the Son of God be known and enjoyed. Observe! It was in the city, with all the rush and bustle, where all were going their own way, immersed in business, pursuing their calling, and seeking the advancement of their own interests, that there was one man who was probably a humble man, and among all these people he attracted the attention of two men, and they as humble as himself.
He was the bearer of refreshment, for he carried a pitcher of water. He evidently had an objective, for he was going towards a certain house. He was unconsciously influencing others, for these two men followed him into the house into which he entered. There these two disciples met "the goodman of the house" (v.11). He also is nameless as far as the narrative is concerned, but he evidently knew the Lord and understood what He wanted, for when the messengers said, "The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guest chamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?", at once he showed them "a large upper room furnished". The bearer of the pitcher of water disappeared; the "goodman" vanished from view.
The Guest Chamber
It was an "upper room", removed from the din and confusion of the world - in the world and yet above it. It was a "large upper room" (v.12). There was room for all whom the Lord invited. He invited them because He loved them and valued their company and, if on their part there was reciprocal affection for Him and appreciation of His company, how readily would they leave everything to be with Him there.
Notice, further, that it was a "large room" furnished with all that was necessary for the comfort of the guests in the presence of their Lord, so that, free from all distraction, they might feast with Him. Honoured indeed were they who were the guests in the "guest chamber" on that memorable night.
Who was He? he was the Son of God, the Lord of Glory, who had come into a cold, dark, joyless world and had brought with Him the love and light of the world whence he had come and whither he was about to go. The world had refused Him and was about to crucify Him. There were those whom He had attracted to Himself; their eyes had been opened. In Him they saw in that day the Word that became flesh and they beheld His glory, but in Him, alas, many see in this day, only the carpenter of Nazareth. He had made himself indispensable to them, for He had shielded them, cared for them, and His words were to them words of life. In fact, He had become everything to them. They were the objects of His love. When "He came unto his own (things), and his own (people) received him not" (Jn 1.11), He called these men around Himself. He called them "his own" and He loved them to the end (Jn 13.1). He was about to leave them, and these precious hours of His last night were to be spent in their company. A memorable night indeed it was.
These were not the great men of the world. They had not, so far as we are informed, distinguished themselves in any way to call for notice. A few fishermen, a tax collector, and, altogether, in the estimation of the men of the day, they would be considered probably of no account. If it were not that we know their hearts to be capable of doing what they did, we might be severe in our judgment of them. The traitor had gone out to do his dreadful work, but there remained one who that very night would deny Him, and ten more who at the crucial moment would forsake Him. Yet He loved them. He claimed them as His own and we feel sure it brought comfort to His heart on that night to take His place as the host, and to minister, as He did, to His guests. They reciprocated His love to a greater or lesser degree. There was "one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved" and he was "leaning on Jesus' bosom" (Jn 13.23).
Let us picture this feast a little further. Outside was the cold, dark night. His enemies were plotting for His life. Inside they were to eat the Passover; there was He to institute the Supper; there they were to listen to ministry that was intended in the first instance for themselves. There He was about to communicate to them secrets that none other could understand. It was Himself and themselves.
The Guest Chamber Today
There is still a "guest chamber" where the Lord can be found in the midst of His own. This is not in every way similar to what took place in Jerusalem on the night of his betrayal. Nevertheless His presence is known, His supremacy is recognised, His voice is heard, and the divine host and His guests feast together. Was it not a guest chamber when the Lord appeared to His own on the evening of the resurrection day, when He revealed Himself to them, spoke the work of peace, showed unto them His hands and His side, and made their hearts glad (Jn 20.19-20)? Was it not a guest chamber in which the disciples "upon the first day of the week…came together to break bread" (Acts 20.7)? Is it not the guest chamber "where two or three are gathered together in my name" with Himself "in the midst" (Mt 18.20)?
Let us see what it means for us today. It is where His own realise His presence, recognise His supremacy, acknowledge His authority, and give Him His rightful place. To that hallowed spot He invites, and among those who respond to His call He is present. Outside is the world, stonily indifferent with no more heart for the Lord than when they cried, "Away with him" (Jn 19.15). Inside the guest chamber is our Lord. Everything must be in accord with the greatness of His person, the holiness of His name, and the character of that place.
He is the host and He surrounds Himself with those whose hearts should beat true, and are prepared to endeavour to shut out the world and shut themselves in with Him. There we may rest under the banner of His love and find His fruit sweet to our taste. There we will rest in His love, as John put his head upon the bosom of Him who dwells in "the bosom of the Father" (Jn 1.18), and there we will remember Him.
Oh that we might apprehended better that when gathered around Him on the first day of the week we are in the guest chamber to remember Him. What joy it gives Him to have us there to satisfy us with His company, to fill our hearts with love for Him, and to call forth hymns of praise to Him.