Respect to Connect

September 9, 2020

For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost. Luke 19:10 NLT

Luke 19 begins with a fascinating story that presents Jesus showing hospitality at its best. Jesus was at the height of His popularity. He was a big deal wherever He went, and on this day He was going to Jericho. News that He was on the way spread quickly, and crowds lined the road to see Him.

A short man named Zacchaeus was in the crowd. He also was well-known, but for a completely different reason than Jesus. Jesus was a rabbi who “went about doing good.” He was powerful, and improved every place His feet touched. On the other end of the spectrum was Zack. He was a hated tax collector. He worked for the Romans and cheerfully participated, with their permission, in cheating the populace as long as they got their cut from the people. He worked for their enemies and profited from it. No one liked him. He was short, too short to see over the heads of the adults who were there, some likely holding children on their shoulders. I’m not very tall myself, and I have been to many parades and fireworks shows where people considerably taller than me have willingly offered to let me stand in front of them. Zack enjoyed no such goodwill. He had to be thick-skinned to show up in the crowd where he knew he would be rejected. He had to be creative to come up with a solution. He climbed up a sycamore tree with low hanging branches he could reach, and then climbed high up in the tree where he could see over the top of the crowd.

Here came Jesus. In this huge crowd and chaos He was on the lookout for people in need, people who needed someone to find a space for them. His eyes scanned the area and found Zack in a most unusual, unexpected place. He locked eyes with Zacchaeus and issued a public invitation. “Zacchaeus! Come down!” He showed respect for Zack. He called him by name and then said, “I want to go to your house today.” Jesus didn’t have a home, so He invited Himself to spend time with the tax collector at his home. Zack hurried down and they went to his house for food and fellowship.

Jesus was immediately criticized by the crowd, but He didn’t try to correct Zack. Zacchaeus was immediately filled with excitement and joy at the unexpected acceptance. Jesus influenced him so much that he instantly began true life transformation. Jesus affirmed him in front of the whole crowd and said this was the whole reason He came—to seek and save whoever was lost. True hospitality. Making room for the ones you don’t have to and who don’t expect it. Respect, not correction.

  • What can you learn from Jesus’ attention to and treatment of an individual in the crowd?
  • Whom do you see in the crowd who would be filled with excitement and joy to receive an invitation from you? Pray about what you could do.