Jesus has a remarkable way of turning ordinary encounters into revolutionary events. When I have heard the story of Zacchaeus preached, most preachers have focussed on the redemptive aspect of the story. Zacchaeus is called out of the tree, and he is restored by Christ. But, something more revolutionary happens in today’s text (Luke 19:1-10). Jesus doesn’t just neutralize Zacchaeus’ shame, dealing with his sin. He moves beyond it, and turns Zacchaeus into the minister, the redeemed one becomes part of Christ’s plan for redemption! Jesus asks Zacchaeus to host a meal in his home (v.5), and because he takes that invitation seriously, we read, “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 the lost.” (v.10). Jesus sat at the table, and he brought some unexpected friends with him – as Jesus so often does! I don’t know if you realise this, but this story comes just before the passion of Christ begins? After this meal, Jesus tells one story (the story of the 10 talents – emphasising that how you and I respond to God’s invitation matters), and then he moves into Jerusalem, and towards the cross. The changing of all of history began when Jesus sat at Zacchaeus’ table!
There is something about sharing a meal with other people that feeds more than just our bodies. I can remember meals in my life that were as nourishing to my soul as they were to my belly – can you? At these family events, I never doubted my place in the fabric of my family – because the stories and the laughter and the sharing of the food stitched us together.
Do you have memories around tables with other people, memories that shaped who you are, and fed your soul? Can you remember evenings at tables with friends, where you sat there long after you had finished eating, because the conversation was just so good, and the companionship was just so good, and the connection you all felt just seemed to light up the table even as it got darker and darker outside? And can you remember meals when someone listened when you most needed to be heard, or someone said what you most needed to hear, or someone just sat with you in silence, because you just needed a friend? Some of the most powerful moments in my life have happened at a table shared with others, how about you?
Of course, some of the most painful memories in my life have happened at mealtime, too. How about you? That day in high school when I went to a social event and walked over to the table to sit with a group of friends I would normally sit with, only to see that they’d given my seat away to someone else. Or the dinner with family that was ruined because your uncle decided to bring up politics. Or that time when you ended up alone in a room full of people who were eating and drinking and having fun, and you weren’t sure which part was worse – feeling left out, or feeling embarrassed because they could see that you were left out.
Sunday we are going to talk about the revolutions that can begin when we become intentional about being with Jesus at the table! Join us at 10am at the Protea Hotel, Techno Park or at 8:30 for the In Gemeen online program on YouTube.
- Dion Forster