Dinner with Jesus
Dinner with Jesus
Words of Faith 11-29-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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[19:1] 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 being a short man he could not, because of 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 what was lost."
As Jesus passed through Jericho, there were two encounters with people recorded that give us one more glimpse at the way Jesus engaged people. The first was with a blind man named Bartimaeus and the second with a tax collector named Zaccheus.
Of the many people that Jesus touched or blessed or helped in some way, these powerful incidents record for us a vivid contrast. We see a blind man and a sighted man, a poor man and a wealthy man, a verbal man and a quiet man. We see two men with different needs, different backgrounds, different socio-economic concerns, different sins and different approaches to Jesus.
What do these two have in common? Both heard about a man named Jesus who was coming by. Both knew that they needed Him. Both had their lives changed in a day when Jesus came through town.
Bartimaeus had been blind but Zaccheus was also blind. He was also quite lost. He was wealthy, but he was a collaborator with the Roman occupation. A short little shrewd business man, he was a chief tax collector. He had become wealthy in a system which allowed him to extort as much money as he could from people, and then keep the excess over the quotas of Rome. Some would have thought that he had it made, but he was lost. He did not call out to Jesus, but he was seeking Him and Jesus called out to him by name! Jesus initiated fellowship with this sinful man. Of course the religious people were upset. Simply by the encounter with Jesus, Zaccheus was changed. He clearly repented, offering to repay all that he had stolen from people and even more to those he had cheated.
We often point out how Zaccheus suddenly became "generous," giving away money fourfold what he had stolen. Actually he did not become generous, he became repentant. According to the Torah, voluntary restitution added twenty percent for stolen money (Lev. 6:2-5, Num. 5:7) and forced restitution from an apprehended thief was double the amount stolen (Ex. 22:3-6).
But rabbinic law called for a man who had stolen what was essential for life, showing no pity, to pay back fourfold the amount. Zaccheus recognized that his crimes had been heartless and cruel. He was not being generous; he was being repentant and responding according to the Law. He experienced the conviction of the Holy Spirit in Jesus. You cannot dine with Jesus and have your life stay the same.
Jesus responded with a statement that defined His mission. 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 what was lost."
It is also interesting that the Hebrew word for salvation is a form of the word yeshu'ah, which is also the name of Jesus in Hebrew. Yeshu'ah has come to this house. Salvation has come to this house.
So just what was it that so dramatically changed Zaccheus? Have you ever stopped to think about who was at dinner in the home of Zaccheus? Jesus, of course. The disciples. But probably also Bartimaeus. He had followed Jesus. Do you imagine that Jesus would have left Bartimaeus at the door? I can't imagine. I can't prove in the text that Bartimaeus was there, but it is hard to imagine that Jesus would have accepted his exclusion.
Very likely, Bartimaeus was eating his first meal that he could actually see. He probably didn't say much. He didn't have to. For years Zaccheus has walked past this hopeless blind man outside of Jericho. Now he was in his house, healed, giving witness, but mostly just eating. The scene had to remind Zaccheus of the coming of Messiah described in Isaiah 61:1-2 (Luke 4:18-19).
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Jesus has come our way. Whether you have been sitting in darkness by the road or watching from a tree, He wants to dine with you and proclaim the Good News to you. He is here to proclaim freedom for prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind. He is here to release the oppressed and proclaim the favor of the Lord.
Lord, I need Your favor in my life. I need Your grace. I need the freedom that Zaccheus found and the sight that Bartimaeus found. I rejoice that You have come. Dine with me and forever change me. In Jesus' name.