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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

Having Jesus for Lunch

“Zacchaeus,make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully''.

(Luke 19:5b-6 NKJV)

Having a guest in your home is not only a reason for conviviality, but can also be a particularly special occasion. Two characters, among others, in Luke's account have the honor of receiving Jesus for lunch at their home: Zacchaeus and Simon. The first was chief tax collector and very rich: he collected taxes on behalf of the Roman oppressor. Elements that made him disliked by the people, and would make the reader consider him a hopeless case, a lost without hope in God's eyes. Yet he longed to see Jesus. When he knows about his walk along the road that goes from Jericho to Jerusalem (the same as the parable of the good Samaritan), takes the opportunity and decides not to miss it. Unfortunately the waiting crowd is great, his crowd does not allow him a good view of the road having to deal with his short stature. A powerful and wealthy man, but limited by his physique. So, what to do? There are no limits that can prevent us from reaching the Master. Zacchaeus looks around and sees a sycamore, a fairly tall tree. Without hesitation he climbs on it, thus managing to rise from the crowd. From there he enjoys a unique view, and in addition to the foliage he is also sheltered from hostile glances. The crowd is in turmoil, the clamor is loud, here is Christ and his coming. That shape gradually became defined in the eyes of Zacchaeus, until it reached right below him. His wish had been fulfilled.

Now he could also go down and return to his employment, when the unpredictable happens. Jesus looks up at the tree and calls him by name: "Zacchaeus,make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house". I find it hard to imagine the reaction of those around the tree or following the Lord. The fame of Zacchaeus is also known to Christ, who decided to stay in his house. Once again the doctor came for the sick, and Jesus to seek what was lost. The tax collector does not hesitate in the least, on the contrary he is assailed by great joy. He who was rejected by his people is chosen by Jesus. Salvation enters his house, and his reaction shows how ready his heart was. Unlike Simon, the Pharisee, who had invited Jesus to dinner with him (Luke 7:36-50). Simone also wanted to know him more closely. He had listened to him several times, but like all the Pharisees he found it hard to believe. Probably that convivial moment together should have provided him with further data to strengthen his convictions about Jesus. The episode of the woman who enters the house and covers the feet of the Lord with tears and then anoints them with a precious perfume steals the show, but induces Simon to express what he thought: “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner” (v. 39).

In the moment that the person of him is questioned, here Jesus lays bare the condition of the Pharisee, who had invited him to his home, but who had not been hospitable towards him at all: neither washing of the feet, nor kissing welcome. He is missing the opportunity to receive divine forgiveness, unlike the woman who has understood who he is anointing his feet and Zacchaeus himself who is preparing to compensate those who had been defrauded by him. I fear that many times we invite the Lord to stay with us, but then we behave like Simon. We are there to observe and criticize his actions, we get lost in judging the behavior of others, while we remain impassive. We invite Him more for others than for ourselves. Where is the joy that Zacchaeus feels? The readiness to open one's home, to give the best and to be willing to remedy any damage caused? This week the Lord wants to stay at your house. Are you ready and available?


Weekly Bible Reading

Plan #32

August 01, Psalms 57-59; Romans 4

August 02, Psalms 60-62; Romans 5

August 03, Psalms 63-65; Romans 6

August 04, Psalms 66-67; Romans 7

August 05, Psalms 68-69; Romans 8:1-21

August 06, Psalms 70-71; Romans 8:22-39

August 07, Psalms 72-73; Romans 9:1-15

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