Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:1-10 NIV
Can you imagine Jesus pretending to be nice to someone? Or having dinner with someone for show? Would Jesus decline to have dinner with someone because they are part of the "wrong crowd"?
How often do we do things for show? Or just to look good to our friends? Whom do we avoid?
What prevents us from truly and freely loving people just as they are?
That Jesus, a rabbi, would choose to go be the guest of a tax collector, is highly significant and breaks the social stigma of the day. The next post, with a quote from Richard Beck's book, explores the significance of hospitality in the early church.