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Another festive meal for Jesus and an outcast “sinner”

Posted Aug 9, 2017

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Daily Scripture

Luke 19:1-10

1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through town. 2 A man there named Zacchaeus, a ruler among tax collectors, was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your home today.” 6 So Zacchaeus came down at once, happy to welcome Jesus.

7 Everyone who saw this grumbled, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

8 Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I repay them four times as much.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this household because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 The Human One [or Son of Man] came to seek and save the lost.”

Reflection Questions

Jesus openly bucked social boundaries by saying, “Zacchaeus, come down—I must stay in your home today.” He offered this outcast a personal friendship, and made it real by sharing his hospitality. He told the grumbling crowd (many of whom Zacchaeus had probably cheated) that he “came to seek and save the lost.” Zacchaeus showed a profound heart change, one that no doubt paid back money to many who had grumbled about Jesus going to be “the guest of a sinner.”

  • Was Zacchaeus more of a “success,” a wealthier man, at the start of this story, or at its end? You know the answer you’re “supposed” to give. But honestly, how do you define your own “wealth” and “success”? Would you ever even consider giving up as much as Zacchaeus did if that was what it took to have Jesus as your friend and Lord?
  • Zacchaeus was so eager to learn more about Jesus that as a wealthy public citizen he climbed a tree to offset his shortness. Jesus was so eager to reach Zacchaeus that he very publicly invited himself to a meal at the house of one of the most despised “sinners” in town. What parts of your social dignity and status are you willing to lay aside to “see” Jesus more fully, or to reach others with Jesus' love?

Prayer

Lord, thank you that even as I seek you, you have been seeking me as you sought Zacchaeus. When I feel “outcast,” remind me that I’m always an “insider” with you. Amen.

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Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality at Saint Paul School of Theology at OCU. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. Her latest book (Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness, Abingdon Press, 2017) traces ancient mindfulness practice for Christians today.

Jesus’ ministry is full of welcoming the outcast and Zacchaeus is a different sort of outcast, not poor or sick. Zacchaeus is a rich, powerful person with government authority. Everyone around Zacchaeus resents him because of the way many tax collectors used their position to extort money from fellow Jews. He is an outcast while remaining powerful.  

Let’s notice what Jesus’ welcome looks like. Jesus puts himself in the place of the guest, not the host. Jesus becomes the “outsider” who enters Zacchaeus’ home to receive hospitality, not the one to give it. This is Jesus’ welcoming strategy to “seek and save the lost,” to invite himself over for dinner!  

Can you picture the festive meal they had together? A meal for reconciliation, relationship and new beginnings. Jesus offers joyful table fellowship throughout his ministry and offers it to us today at the communion table. 

What is your welcoming strategy? Would you rather be the host or the guest? Why? What is difficult about choosing to be the one on the receiving end of hospitality? How might we “seek and save the lost” with this strategy?

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