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|When Jesus Comes for Dinner
|Thursday, January 25, 2018|
“Been pokin’ around the gospels a bit,” spouted my friend, Jack, as he shoved a toothpick in his mouth. The long pause he left dangling meant I was supposed to inquire further.
“Whatcha find in the gospels lately, Jack?”
“I’ve noticed Jesus spent a surprising amount of time at dinner with lost people—and amazing things often happened at those dinners.” Here his toothpick waggled in the left corner of his upturned mouth.
“Take me to one of.…” Jack anticipated my response. Didn’t let me finish.
“Luke 19. The short guy—Zaccheus. Couldn’t see Jesus so he climbed the sycamore tree. But Jesus saw him up there and urged him to come down quickly so he could stay at Zaccheus’ home.”
“Sure. Every Sunday School kid knows this one,” I offered.
“Then you’ll recall that the religious folks were less than thrilled with Christ’s choice of dinner associates.” With an impressive (and thankfully invisible) swish of his tongue, Jack whisked the toothpick from the left corner of his mouth to the right. He continued.
“‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner!’ Jesus critics charge. And Jesus Himself is silent with regard to any defense for Zaccheus’ character or conduct. Not even Zaccheus defends himself.”
“Maybe Zaccheus was a bigger man than his short stature suggested,” I offered.
“Not a bigger man. A changed man. Zaccheus assures Christ, ‘Half of my possessions I will give to the poor.’ Then comes the show stopper. Jesus gestures toward Zaccheus (here Jack removes the toothpick and jabs at the air) pointing out that ‘today salvation has come to this house because he, too, is a son of Abraham.’ In other words, he is now headed for heaven. And it all happened over dinner. Amazing!” Jack was suddenly silent.
“So what’s your big takeaway?” I asked, my friend still lost in Zaccheus’ story.
“Discipleship—sometimes it begins at dinner.”
Jack could read my mind—I’m sure of it. He saw me pondering too many of my comfortable dinners with too many comfortable Christian friends. Yet I’m guessing he saw something else deep inside—a hunger to have dinner with unsaved people.
That’s when he smiled—and popped the toothpick back in his mouth.
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