I want to eat lunch with you.

In Lent 24 by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he could not because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him….”

Luke 19:1-10

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man; a wee little man was he. And he climbed up in a sycamore tree, the savior for to see” goes the child’s song about this text from Luke 19. Zacchaeus is known for his curiosity about Jesus, so strong that he resorted to climbing a tree. The last thing that Zacchaeus would have imagined was being a host to Jesus.

But that is what happened!

Luke doesn’t say it, but I imagine that Zacchaeus would have served Jesus a meal. That was the law of hospitality. I also imagine Zacchaeus peppering the Lord with questions. So many questions. Whatever was said in that time they spent together resulted in a radical transformation in the tax collector.

Zacchaeus told Jesus that he was going to give away half of his possessions to the poor, and he said that what he got by defrauding those from whom he collected taxes he would repay four times as much. The thing that caused the people to hate tax collectors is twofold. First, they worked for Rome and were considered traitors because of that. The second is that they were permitted to overcharge the people as a way to make profit themselves. Corruption was rife.

Jesus did his best work in the context of meals and hospitality: feeding the five thousand and being entertained by Levi, another tax collector, to name a couple. In the home of Zacchaeus, Jesus was able to have an extended and thorough conversation about matters of importance. And that conversation in hospitality resulted in changing Jesus’ host.

Something to think about: The big message of Jesus, as well as John the Baptist, was to “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The measure of repentance is whether there is any change that occurs, any alteration in one’s life that signals deep convictions. When have you repented? What happened in your life?

Something to pray about: Dear Father, you called us to repentance from the beginning of your ministry. The New Testament is replete with such stories of whom Zacchaeus is a great example. Please help us to be honest with ourselves and to be courageous with change. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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