5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” – Luke 19:5-7 (NKJV)
Let’s just say it like this. In the Gospel of Luke, we see Jesus engaging in some intimate interactions with some sinners. Similarly, He goes to the house of Levi the tax collector and dines with other tax collectors and sinners. What is surprising is not the invitation itself. What is truly surprising is the response of people to the Lord’s invitation.
In Luke 19:6, Zacchaeus is said to have moved hastily “and received Him joyfully.” In Mark, Levi and his friends sat with Jesus and His followers. This was in response to Levi (Matthew) following Jesus after His initial invitation to follow Him, leaving all of his tax table and other wares behind. In Luke, it is reported that the tax collector hosted a large feast; “. . . And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them.” In fact, the Samaritan woman who encountered Jesus at the well went out and shared her experience with others. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” Thus, Jesus’ invitation prompted these people to invite others to join them. Therefore, the invitation inspired them to take action one way or another.
Others responded with despise for Jesus. In fact, some exhibited such piety that they despised Jesus more than the tax collectors or others. Pharisees could not get beyond His fellowship with such defiled people. Other folks just couldn’t believe that a holy man could have fellowship with sinners. That was definitely the other side of the coin when it came to such a public invitation.
So what do you think? Could you be part of the joyful reception of the Lord’s invitation to the outsiders and outcasts of your community and social order? Or, do you feel inclined to indict others for their efforts to get down and dirty among the “least of these?”
Pray about it.
Think it over.
You never know what the Lord may bring your way today.