When traveling in our day as well as in Bunyan’s day, we all need rest stops. Today we identify rest stops by the nearest town or their varied features – whether they have road maps, vending machines with our favorite snacks, and clean restrooms (most important of all). We are grateful for this addition to our road travels.
The Way provided rest stops for Christian and his companions and each had a name and a purpose. While Christian had a few snags at the beginning, he arrived at his first good stop as Evangelist had directed him, and that was the Wicket Gate. Though his time there was brief, Goodwill pointed him to the Interpreter’s House even before he arrived at the Cross.
Thus Christian still had his burden of sin on his back as the Interpreter gave him a tour around the rooms filled with object lessons. The type of rest Christian received here came in the form of instruction necessary at the start of his journey. In later episodes he would make the application. For example, two children, Patience and Passion, occupied one room. Often Christian needed this lesson of patient waiting for the right answer.
At the Cross eternal rest began as the burden of sin fell off Christian’s back and rolled into the tomb, never to be seen again. “He said with a merry heart, ‘He has given me rest by His sorrows, and life by His death.’” Three heavenly beings assured Christian of peace and sins forgiven, and gave him new garments and a book to read along the way.
The next rest stop, the Palace Beautiful, is likened to the Church and fellowship of believers. The porter welcomed Christian and introduced him to the household of faith: Discretion, Prudence, Piety, and Charity. Each has a part in preparing Christian for the rest of his journey. As they questioned him about his past, his purpose, and destination, we find out that Christian’s former name was Graceless. He told them of his family, how he began his journey, and what had kept him on the way.
Toward the end of the journey, Christian and Hopeful found refreshing while at the Delectable Mountains in the care of Shepherds. From here the travelers view Immanuel’s Land. The shepherds’ names also tell of their duty: Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere. A few more stops and the pilgrims reach home – the Celestial City.