What if you ran into Jesus in town today and he said he wanted to drop by your house for lunch? What would be your first thoughts? That you need to clean your house first? Or "what do I have in the fridge that would be a suitable lunch for the Son of God?" Probably most of us would prefer to take him to a nice restaurant or schedule lunch for a later date when we could be properly prepared.
Suppose he said he didn’t care about all that, and that he just wanted to be with you. What would you talk about with him over the lunch table? Would you try to entertain him with music or movies? Or would you ask him about his life, his miracles, and how you could better live to please and serve him? Would you be joyful and delighted that he was coming home with you or be filled with worries and dread? How would your life change if Jesus came home with you today?
In Luke 19, we find a very similar event. Jesus was passing through the town of Jericho, and the crowds were lining the streets to get a glimpse of him. There was a very rich man named Zacchaeus who made his wealth from abusing his position to collect taxes for the Roman government by over-taxing the people and keeping the extra. He was also lonely because people hated him for doing so.
Zacchaeus had heard of Jesus, this amazing person sent by God. I believe Zacchaeus felt that if he could just meet Jesus, the loneliness and guilt of his life would vanish. But the streets were crowded, and being a short man he couldn’t even get a glimpse of Jesus.
However, Zacchaeus was a strategist. He figured he had to get up above the crowd, where he could see Jesus as he passed by underneath. So he ran ahead and climbed a strategically placed tree, crawled out on a limb and waited with bated breath for Jesus to walk down the road below him.
He must have been amazed as Jesus approached his hidden position. He must have been even more amazed as Jesus looked up and saw him on his perch. Why, it was as if Jesus already knew he was there! Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down because today it is necessary for me to stay at your house.” (cf. Luke 19:5 CSB).
Zacchaeus scooted down the tree, ran to Jesus and joyfully received Jesus into his home. He had gone out on a limb to have the chance to meet Jesus, and it had paid off! The crowd began to grumble, saying mean things about Jesus because Jesus had gone to be a guest of a hated, sinful man.
On the way home with Jesus, Zack stopped and told Jesus that that he was going to give half of his possessions to the poor, and to anyone he had defrauded, he would repay four times what he stole from them. Jesus responded in Luke 19:9-10 (CBS): “Today salvation has come to this house because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” Zack had sought satisfaction and affirmation from his wealth, but now he realized that life does not consist of the things you have, but in knowing the God who knows you and loves you.
In the midst of our busy lives, in which our major drive is the acquisition of things or power, we often miss the greatest treasure in life. Spending some time with Jesus, by whom all things were created, and allowing his love for us to create value in us, is so much more valuable than things which are here today and gone tomorrow.
Further, we miss the joy and wonder of what Jesus came to accomplish. Because Jesus died for us, we can be forgiven and restored to a healthy relationship with God. Because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to bring God to us and indeed to live within us (cf. John 14:23), we can meet with Jesus daily.
For a Christian, every day can be a day of lunch with Jesus. It can be a feast and an awe-filled time of sitting down with Jesus and interacting with him. If you are a Christian, do you spend time with Jesus in your life? If you have never received Jesus, why not do like Zacchaeus and “receive Him gladly?”
Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church in Gwynn, Virginia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org