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.”
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.”
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.
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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