Monday, November 28, 2011

The True Meaning of Hospitality

"When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, 'Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.' Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him." Luke 19:5-6 MSG

In case you don't know the story, Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector in Jericho. Tax collectors were not very well liked or respected. But Zacchaues, had heard of this man called Jesus and for whatever reason, wanted to see Him. He was so earnest in this need, that he ended climbing up a fig tree in order to be taller than the crowd.

And what did Jesus do? Did Jesus shun him? Did Jesus ignore him? That is what Zacchaeus was used to. No. Jesus stopped and looked up at Zacchaeus and said he had to come down out of the tree for He was going to be a guest at his home. In fact, the NIV version states, "I MUST stay at your house today." That implies a divine necessity. That it was part of the greater plan.

And what did Zacchaeus do? Did he say, "Sorry, but I don't want you to come to my home. I'm a busy man and just wanted a peek at you. I don't want and I can't take the time to have you go home with me, make you a meal and then entertain you. I'll get a raincheck." No. What does it say in the MSG version? It says that he scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his great luck, delighting in bringing Jesus to his home. Wow!

Here is a man that his community looked upon as a sinner, a piece of dirt and treated him as such. But who had the heart that was open to have Jesus enter in? Zacchaues. Who scrambled, out of a 30-40 foot tree--which wouldn't have been easy for a short, stout man--to receive his guest? Zacchaues. Who looked upon this command as a moment of great luck--a wonderful gift--and not an inconvenience? Zacchaues. And who was delighted--full of joy, happy, tinkled pink--to take Jesus home? Yes, Zacchaues.

We have a lot to learn from Zacchaues, don't you think? How many times have you had the opportunity to look for Jesus, and because it was too hard, or because it would cause you an inconvenience, you put it off for another day? How many times when Jesus was asking you to come and be with Him, to invite you to open yourself, your heart, your spirit to receive Him, did you say, "Oh, not today. I need to clean things up and I don't have time right now." That you didn't look upon it as a great gift, but as a have to? As an irritation? And how many times have you been delighted when Jesus comes calling? Be honest--how many?

Maybe Zacchaues was a sinner--but on that day--the angels were cheering for him. On that day, he entered the courts with thanksgiving. On that day he became a new creation in Christ. The old was gone, and the new remained.

What about you?

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