Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region and had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)
This story to me is a perfect picture of the way we communicate with those who don’t know Jesus. A lot of time as Christians, we look at the world around us and dissect the fact that it is full of sinners and people who don’t know the Lord. When Jesus looked at Zacchaeus, He didn’t condemn him or tell him how much of a sinner he was or even warn him about hell. He asked him to dinner. And remember, Zacchaeus was not just your everyday guy. Here’s some background on him:
“Zacchaeus‘ backstory: Israelites of Jesus’ day looked at tax collectors as thieves and crooks. Tax collectors were Jews who worked for the Roman government, which ruled Israel at the time. Their job was to collect taxes from their own people and hand the money over to the hated foreign power. Their own income came from whatever they could get out of people after they met Rome’s quota. So Zacchaeus and his fellow tax-collecting traitors would make up tax amounts on the fly. Zacchaeus was a professional cheat, an embezzler. He was a thief.”
Jesus set an example for us when He sat with Zacchaeus. He showed us that the way to reach people isn’t to hold up signs or post hateful Facebook statuses. The way to reach people is to go to dinner with them. Build a relationship and show them who Jesus is through your actions. That’s how Jesus changed the world and that’s the example He gave us. Be challenged to follow that example Jesus left for us. Invite someone to dinner.