Text: Luke 19:1-10, Genesis 18:1-10, Genesis 19:1-11
And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him,“Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”
- Luke 19:5
We had just moved to a new Army post a few months earlier, and my husband was working long hours. It seemed my daughter or I were always sick – just enough to need to stay at home. When the one friend I’d made suggested playdates, I’d turn her down. I was tired, and my house wasn’t in a shape I’d deem “playdate ready.”
One morning I heard a knock on the door and there she was, coffee for us both in hand, her two kids rushing in. She was smiling sheepishly and said, “I don’t care if the house is a mess or if you have a cold – we missed you.” Her bold kindness has stuck with me for several years.
We are a culture that has put in place nearly impossible standards for our hosts and ourselves. Birthday parties must be perfect, dinners need to be Instagram-ready, even play dates have become themed.
What we’ve lost in the perfection is the comfort and companionship that comes with being with another person in their mess. It’s not about living in filth – it’s about making relationships more of a priority than the homes they take place in.
Guests are revered in the Bible. The angels that visited Lot in Genesis 19 were hidden inside as the men of the town yelled for them to be brought out. Lot attempts to protect his angelic guests by welcoming them at any cost.
In Luke 19, we see Zacchaeus, amid all his outward flaws, as the perfect host. No excuses, no rushing ahead to clean, no rescheduling. He climbed down and took Jesus to his home. Since he was able to focus on the blessing of Jesus asking to be his guest, he was also able to see the bigger picture in the invitation of salvation.
Hospitality is rarely convenient. We must be willing to interrupt the lives of others and be interrupted in our own to truly experience hospitality as Jesus practiced.
Jesus boldly asked to be a guest with Zacchaeus, knowing others would be shocked at Him spending time with such a man. He knew the message this would convey to Zacchaeus – “I care about you, I want to spend time with you.” How often do we do this with our friends? Someone in your life may need you to push the boundary a little before they let you into their home or heart.
Jesus and Zacchaeus offer the ideal setting for hospitality— bold asking, enthused acceptance. As we look at our relationships with others, where can we step into one of these roles and allow others to see our mess? Where can we take part in another’s real life? What are we missing out on if we are not willing to do both?