The Guest Chamber
There are words that the Holy Spirit uses abundantly in the NT; others He uses sparingly. In the latter class the word kataluma the noun from the verb kataluw is used on just two occasions: Luke 2: 7 and again in Mark 14: 14 and Luke 22: 11.
In the English Bible there is nothing to link the words together. Luke 2: 7 reads “because there was no room for them in the inn” whereas Mark 14: 14 and the equivalent passage in Luke 22: 11 read respectively “Where is my guest–chamber where I may eat the passover with my disciples?” and “Where is the guest–chamber where I may eat the passover with my disciples?”
Now there is something to be gained for the soul by investigating this word in the original Greek: kataluw means “to unloose what was previously bound or fastened” and properly refers to travellers loosening their own burdens or those of their animals when they stopped at a house on a journey. Hence the noun kataluma was used for a lodging place or inn, so–called because of the ancient travellers who on arrival loosened their belts or girdles, their sandals and the saddles or harnesses of their animals. In the ancient Greek writings, the place of entertainment is called kataluma where animals and burdens are loosened. Hence the word was used for a guest chamber, a dining room where the guests loosened their sandals before they sat down to eat. Perhaps now the link between the two occasions on which the word is used is clear.
When the Lord Jesus came into this scene, this world had no room for Him. The most illustrious Guest to ever come to earth, and yet men had no place for Him. Great and mighty angels had in the past been here, and obtained a better reception that He the Creator, not only of those angels, but of all things. Yet as come in the likeness of men, He had to take a place, in a manger, belonging to the lowly beasts! It was so throughout His sojourn here. He Himself later observed that “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven roosting–places; but the Son of man has not where he may lay his head”, (Matt. 8: 20, Luke 9: 58).
Now Luke 2: 7 does not say, as some misquote, “there was no room for Him in the inn” but “there was no room for them in the inn”. Not only has the world no accommodation for the Lord but it has none for those who are identified with Him. Those who demonstrate their love for the Christ of God will get the same reception as He Himself, (see John 15: 18–20). The world has not changed since the Lord was here. When He was here he did not fit into their scheme of things, (see Matt. 21: 42), and it is no different now for His own who identify themselves with their Master.
However, there was a place here where the Lord could “loosen His sandals” and be at ease among His own, albeit in the midst of Jerusalem, that “great city, which is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified”, (Rev. 11: 8). A man had a guest chamber, a place so peculiarly for Christ that the Lord can speak of it as “my guest chamber”. The world, whether the vulgar, the cultured, or the religious, has no guest chamber for Him but yet there is a place in which the Lord can find rest. What answers now to that guest chamber in Jerusalem is the Assembly. A place to which He can come. The Assembly alone can provide that place, but as having certain features: “and he will show you a large upper room furnished ready” (Mark 14: 15).
The first feature required by the Lord for His guest chamber is its size. It is large, not small. There is no thought of restriction. Its occupants will not be cramped, there is plenty of room. It is where all His disciples can be. The smallness and limitations of sects have no place. The place where the Lord’s Supper was instituted is the place where it must be celebrated. The one loaf now corresponds to the largeness of the room. Practically all His own may not be there, but there must be room for all.
Yet while largeness is the first feature of His guest chamber, it is not its only feature. Many forget this. It is also an upper room. It is an elevated place, above the level of this world. Lot chose and dwelt in “the cities of the plain”, (Gen. 13: 12), which were soon to be overthrown in judgement. In contrast at a much later day, Daniel had an upper room to which he could retire in a crisis, (Dan. 6: 10). The Lord’s guest chamber is above this scene where a heavenly atmosphere is breathed, where the spiritual air is fresh and pure.
Finally it is furnished ready. The room, although large, was not empty. It was furnished ready for the occasion. There had been previous preparation. All that was needed for the occasion was already there. Everything was in place. The place to which the Lord comes is ready for Him. There was nothing that still needed attention. Beloved brethren let me say that if we are not ready for Him to come for us in the previous six days of the week, then we cannot expect Him to come to us on His day at His supper! The readiness of soul is seen in the attitude of that soul to the return of Him, for the Lord’s supper is until He come, (1 Cor. 11: 26).
If we know something of what it is , as identified with Him, to find no ease in this world, then as expecting and in readiness for His return we can enjoy the privilege of providing a place where, in the meantime He can come and we can enjoy His presence even now.