The physician Luke, traveling companion of the Apostle Paul, recorded a somewhat amusing account concerning the efforts of man named Zacchaeus – a detested Jewish tax collector for the occupying Roman forces – to see Jesus. However, the aftermath of the man’s endeavors was all but amusing.
In chapter 19 the physician wrote that, while passing through the city of Jericho, Jesus was followed by an enormous mass of people – many vying for his attention. Zacchaeus was among them striving to catch a glimpse of Jesus; however, since he was an extremely short man, the crowd frustrated his attempts. Short, but nevertheless enterprising, the tax collector climbed a nearby Sycamore tree, hoping that in its branches his desire would be realized.
He was correct.
Luke recorded in verse five that “As Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him and said, ‘Hurry, down, Zacchaeus, because I must stay at your house today’” (TEV).
Undoubtedly, many highly-esteemed persons were within that crowd, also desirous for the Lord’s notice, yet He selected a person despised as a thief, a robber and an enemy collaborator.
Why would Jesus do something like this? He supplies the reason in verse ten: “. . . the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (TEV).
Jesus acknowledged Zacchaeus was lost – a sinner. He wanted to save him, but could not do so by rebuffing him and refusing to offer him His fellowship. The purpose of Christ’s supreme mission on earth was this very thing – to save lost humanity, of whom Zacchaeus was one.
Zacchaeus – Rejected
Some readers of this article may sense yourselves rejected by society. You feel friendless, dejected, despised and hopeless. Jesus Christ is seeking to save the likes of you. He compared His mission to a woman who lost a coin. To find it she swept every area of her home, until it was located. So it is with the Savior. As He did with Zacchaeus, He continues to offer His fellowship to the lost. To very lowest of sinners – to those whom society acknowledges are lost – as well as to those whom the world considers respectable.
Sadly, some among the respected ranks of society of our era tend to react as did the critics of Jesus when he solicited the hospitality of Zacchaeus. “And when they [the people] saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner” (Luke 19:7; KJV). None are too debased or too high-ranking to entertain the Lord. None are beyond His scope of rescue from sin.
Zacchaeus deserved the brand of a traitor. By Jewish law, he was worthy of death and deserved execution for collaborating with and collecting taxes for the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. Moreover, he cheated both Rome and his countrymen by overtaxing and embezzling the difference for himself.
This is the sinner in whose home Christ requested hospitality!
Perhaps, while attempting to catch a glimpse of Jesus, the petite tax gatherer thought that one as pure and sinless as Jesus never would give attention to a traitorous collaborator such as he was; undoubtedly, the mass of people thought the same. Jesus astounded them all, “Zacchaeus . . . I must stay at your house today’” (TEV).
The tax collector’s reaction was immediate! He felt privileged, honored, that from among the entire crowd packed with dignitaries, he was selected to provide hospitality to the celebrated Jesus. “And he made haste and came down and received him joyfully.”
Christ Jesus continues to seek hospitality. Selecting you from among earth’s teeming population, He is asking that you open the door of your heart to receive Him. Hear His call for your hospitality, “Listen! I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his house and eat with him, and he will eat with me” (Rev. 3:20; TEV).
We consider it rude in our generation for someone to ask for an invitation to supper. However, in Bible days, such a request was considered gracious. The rude person was the one who refused to extend an invitation. So the question confronts you: “Are you going to extend Jesus the invitation He is requesting from you? Or are you going to keep Him waiting outside your heart’s door?”
Yes, you have the privilege of entertaining the Son of God. You may experience the joy such an occasion offers; the same quality of joy experienced by Zacchaeus. Humanity is searching for peace; it craves joy – especially at this critical stage of world events. Countless billions of dollars continue to be spent in the vain effort to gain peace and joy. The results always have been a synthetic short-lived substitute.
Some time back, the media reported the account of a young man who committed suicide. Materially wealthy, he had great possessions, but was without joy and contentment. Tragically, his discontent led to his suicide. It is indicative of the fact that, though many possess what they suppose will bring them contentment, they instead sense an emptiness of soul. They realize something is missing. Such bareness only Jesus Christ can satisfy with a joy He alone can supply.
Yes, many are the families broken by sin. Regrettably, even numerous Christian parents are sick with grief over wayward children who refuse Christ’s request to fellowship with them. Many are those heading for an eternal damnation that – after one arrives at the age of accountability – does not discriminate between adults, preteens or teenagers. The media carried a horrific account of a sixteen-year-old boy killed at a drinking party when, in an intoxicated condition, he somehow toppled from an upper story window to the pavement below. Imagine the grief of his parents, as they interred their son’s broken body in its grave. And yet – and yet – Jesus Christ can administer His balm of joy even to such brutally shattered hearts. Hear His invitation to sufferers: “Come to me all of you who are tired of carrying heavy loads and I will give you rest,” (Mat. 11:28; TEV).
Are you brokenhearted, tired of carrying your heavy load? There is rest for the brokenhearted in Jesus Christ, who awaits only an invitation to enter. When He does, He will heal your broken heart and take your heavy burden from you.
KJV = King James Verse
TEV = Today’s English Version Or GNT Good News Translation
Entertained by a Sinner