A Dinner Invitation

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A Dinner Invitation

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If you were able to have Jesus Christ over to your home one evening next week, would you be excited and full of anticipation to show Him how you live? Or, would you panic and need to spend the majority of the time sorting through piles of junk and unwanted items that you can’t quite seem to find the time to get rid of? Would you race about frantically arranging for the carpets to be shampooed, the dog to be groomed, the mountain of laundry to be washed and finally fix the rickety old step out front, so Jesus would not injure Himself?

Then, as the day approaches, would you get ultra-organized and actually plan to go to the supermarket to purchase some healthy ingredients, so you could offer Jesus a lovely, nutritious meal, rather than resort to the usual takeout foods you have come to enjoy and rely on because you are just too tired to cook from scratch?

The more you think about things and the state of your life, the more you begin to talk yourself out of it, because you think you will never be ready by next week. There is just simply far too much to do. You could instead delay the visit for a time when you think you will be better prepared. However, you know deep down inside yourself that this is not a good thing to do as delaying the visit runs the huge risk of no visit at all. You can think of many others who would jump at the chance to have Jesus Christ visit with them.

It does not matter your age, if Jesus Christ invited Himself over to your place for dinner and an evening of hospitality how would you react? Let’s look at the reaction of a man named Zacchaeus from the Bible.

Jesus comes to Zacchaeus’ house

In Luke 19:1-10, NKJV throughout we find the account of Zacchaeus, who we are told was a wealthy tax collector. Not only a tax collector, but a chief tax collector. He had power in this high position of authority. He could pocket for himself more than what he was ordered to collect from the people if he so chose to do so. People felt betrayed by tax collectors. The people of the day despised Zacchaeus believing him to be unscrupulous, greedy, dishonest and relentless in collecting their taxes. They were doing their best to earn a living and the taxes collected proved to be a heavy burden to them. Tax collectors were shunned by society in those days and no one in the general Jewish public associated freely with them. They were outcasts.

The Bible says that Jesus was passing through the city of Jericho when crowds gathered to come and see Him. Imagine a huge crowd of people lining the street and gathered together waiting excitedly along the roadside until Jesus arrived. The atmosphere would be abuzz with eager anticipation.

Now Zacchaeus was short in stature and he quickly realized that he would not be able to see Jesus pass by because of this, so he ran ahead and climbed up high into a sycamore tree. When Jesus came by He looked up and called for Zacchaeus to quickly get down so that He could stay at his house. So, Jesus actually invited Himself over to Zacchaeus’ place for dinner!

What did Zacchaeus do? Zacchaeus unequivocally and immediately responded to Jesus very openly and he did so joyfully. He did not have to agonize over what he should or could do to prepare his home so that it would impress Jesus. He wholeheartedly and honestly opened up his heart and mind to the invitation. This unfolded with crowds all around. Could it be that Jesus was teaching the crowds not to judge others harshly without truly knowing one another?

Then, Jesus Christ said to Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10)

What we can learn from Zacchaeus’ example

Zacchaeus was curious about this Man named Jesus. He had an opportunity to check Jesus out along with everyone else, and he was not going to miss out despite what people thought of him. He knew that he was an outcast, rejected, perceived as a traitor and extortionist, and excluded from all acceptable social contacts with Jews. The Jews could only see Zacchaeus as a thief who had allied himself with the Romans. Just how did all those people surrounding Jesus and Zacchaeus react when Jesus greeted and extended the invitation to Zacchaeus? It tells us in Luke 19:7“But when they saw it, they all complained “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner”.

Do we feel like an outcast at times from the world? Maybe we are not smart enough, good looking enough, not confident or charismatic enough to do as well as what we would like to. Maybe we are even wealthy, but are resented by others for this like Zacchaeus was. Guess what? None of this actually matters to God. God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35)Isn’t it comforting to know it does not matter what we have or do not have, what we look like, or where we live? It is only important that we accept God’s offer of salvation when it is offered to us and are prepared to change our lives and live according to Jesus Christ’s example!

Jesus called Zacchaeus by name. He knew who he was and could see potential in him. The invitation from Jesus Christ meant an offer of forgiveness, mercy and acceptance by God. This friendship was totally undeserving of course, but Zacchaeus received Jesus’ invitation joyfully, with an open heart, in a childlike attitude of enthusiasm. Zacchaeus did not feel that he was an outcast in Christ’s eyes. He felt accepted and loved.

Zacchaeus responded to Christ because Christ knew that Zacchaeus had a submissive heart and he was willing to change. Jesus made an offer to him that no one else would; to spend time with him and to get to know him despite all his public rejection. The offer came unexpectedly and in front of crowds of people who could see that Jesus was willing to associate Himself with an outcast. The people, most likely, had all judged Zacchaeus based on what their eyes saw, (collection of taxes) but not by what was not seen (giving to the poor). The people of the day had prejudged Zacchaeus as sinful, they were not aware of the heart that was giving and kind.

Will we open our door when Jesus Christ knocks?

Zacchaeus was wealthy but an outcast. He did give to the poor which shows an element of kindness and generosity to his character. Jesus Christ extended friendship, acceptance and unconditional love first (Romans 5:8). Isn’t that what we all crave and desire?

When you sit down to have dinner with your physical or spiritual family, whether that be every night of the week or only weekly, open your heart to those around you (Romans 13:8). We all need to start somewhere. Time passes by so quickly and we can miss opportunities to build relationships.

Jesus Christ is knocking at the door of our hearts. Ask God to help you obtain the closeness of friendship that He is offering to you (Matthew 7:7). He will not push open the door for you, but rather wait for you to open it and respond with a childlike attitude such as Zacchaeus did.

The biblical account of Zacchaeus does not say whether he was content with his life or not but to have openly accepted Jesus Christ’s invitation immediately. It may have been that Zacchaeus was not truly fulfilled despite giving half his goods to the poor and being wealthy. It would follow then that Zacchaeus knew there was something missing from his life when he openly embraced this opportunity.

The physical things of this life such as wealth are passing away (1 John 2:15-17) and are counted as rubbish compared with the relationship we can have with God the Father and Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8; John 15:9-17). So if Christ comes knocking on your door, let Him in. Your life will be forever changed for the better.

To understand more about Jesus Christ and what He taught, request the free Bible study aid Jesus Christ The Real Story.