Are there people you would love to meet? People you especially admire and look up to? People that would make you lightheaded and giddy, especially if you were to sit down and have dinner together?
The other day I was reading about Jesus who was on his way to Jerusalem. He was nearing the end of his three year ministry. He was hot, dusty, and weary.
He knew death was awaiting him when he arrived.
Crowds were closing in so thick he could hardly walk. Pharisees were testing him. Sick and lame people were begging for healing.
They were near a town called Jericho, only 23 miles from Jerusalem. It’s the oldest city and it’s an oasis.
I’ve been to Jericho twice. All around is desert, but Jericho sits among streams, waterfalls, and palm trees. It’s a lush, green respite in a desolate area.
Can you picture it?
It was in this town that something remarkable happened. A short little thug named Zacchaeus ran ahead of the crowd and scrambled up a tree so he could get a glimpse of Jesus.
You might be tempted to think of him as a “wee little man in a Sycamore tree,” but he was the worst of the worst. You see Rome exacted a tax from the Jews, and the Jewish countrymen who agreed to bilk their own people for Rome, also padded their own pockets. He was a thug!
Zacchaeus must have been especially hated because he was the CHIEF tax collector. Think of someone like a drug lord, a pimp, or crime boss. Think Tony Soprano.
There are so many stunning things happened. As soon as Jesus arrived in the cool, wet oasis:
- Jesus pointed up to the criminal in the tree and hollered, “Hey Zacchaeus, dinner’s at your house tonight!
- Zaccheaus had heard so much about Jesus he stopped everything to get a gander. Apparently these stories about Jesus were more tantalizing to him than wealth.
- Zaccheaus rushed home to get dinner ready. In his house, we read that he stood up and announced he would give half of his possessions to the poor and he would pay anything he had extorted from the people “four times over.” (Luke 19:8) In essence, by quoting Torah (Exodus 22:1), he was saying, “Dude, I’m such a thief!”
But that’s what Jesus does when you encounter him. He makes you want to bow low, confess your junk, and be best friends.
Want to hear something really cool? That winsome Jesus wants to have dinner at your house too!
And there is nothing you have to do? You might not be as bad as Zacchaeus or Tony Soprano, but you’re no saint.
The cool thing is you don’t have to be.
It would be like Tyler, Rich, or Greta calling me up and saying, “Hey Lucille, we’re coming over.”
You don’t have to clean yourself or the house up.
Just enjoy the company.
Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty teacher at Colorado Christian University.
She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."