The Houseguest Who Stays

Ask a child who regularly attends Bible school to name a favorite Bible story and the name Zacchaeus is likely to be mentioned. There’s something about this “wee little man” that endears him to young and old alike. Perhaps it’s how Jesus showed compassion on a man despised by most; or maybe it’s the way this tax collector climbed a tree in order to see Jesus. Whatever the reason, it ranks high on the list of beloved Bible stories.
But why did Luke record this event? There must be something adults should learn. What can we take from this interesting account?
Jesus’ self-invitation to Zacchaeus’ home deserves some attention: “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5). We should note that Jesus did not invite him to come to the synagogue for the evening sermon. He didn’t urge him to become a regular at temple activities. Instead, our Lord challenged Zacchaeus to allow him to “stay” at his house. This is a profound lesson.
Christianity for many is a Sunday morning phenomenon. There are clothes in some folks’ closets that are only worn on Sunday mornings when it’s time for worship. There’s nothing wrong with that. But are there also traits and attitudes worn only on Sunday mornings? When the final “Amen” has been said, do we rush home to remove our Christianity so we can resume our normal (non-Christian) lifestyle?
Attending worship is a wonderful thing, a necessary thing for those who wish to please God. But it’s far from constituting the whole package. Like the tax collector in Luke’s account, God’s desire is to take up residence in our lives. That means 24/7/365. Whatever it is that we do, whether on Sunday morning, Tuesday afternoon or Saturday night, Jesus wants to be Lord in our lives.
And why does Jesus desire so much territory? Look at the result with Zacchaeus: “Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold'” (Luke 19:8). This resolution pleased the Lord as evidenced by the words he then spoke: “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a Son of Abraham” (v. 9).
A changed life is what the Lord expects, not just a changed Sunday morning schedule. For Zacchaeus, that meant significant changes. In return for those changes, though, he received riches far greater and more enduring than what he might swindle from his neighbors. In eternity Zacchaeus will surely say, “I’m so thankful I allowed the Lord to come stay at my house.”
Jesus’ invitation remains the same. He’s not asking us merely to wake up early on the first day of the week to attend a Bible study and worship assembly. He’s asking us to open our home to him. His intention is to stay (if we’ll let him).
“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23).

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