In Luke 19, we read a story of Jesus visiting Jericho and coming into contact with a man named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus is a tax collector, which means he takes money from the Jewish people on behalf of the Roman government. He doesn’t have a lot of fans in the area.
Jesus drew quite a crowd, and people were gathering around him. Zacchaeus must be pretty desperate (or curious) to see Jesus, because he climbs up in a tree to get a good view. Here’s what happens next:
“When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”” (Luke 19:5-10 NLT)
Notice that there’s already a big crowd around Jesus. Out of all the people around, He chooses to go to the house of Zacchaeus. The crowd certainly thinks this is odd. They grumble because Jesus has gone to be with a “notorious sinner.” From their perspective, Jesus has made the wrong pick.
Then, something unexpected happens. Zacchaeus tells Jesus that he will give half his wealth away and repay those he cheated four times. Jesus says that “Salvation has come to this home today.” Nobody thought that Zacchaeus would be the one to receive this.
The story of Zacchaeus paints a picture that what happens at the table is important. The mission of Jesus, to seek and save those who are lost, can happen at the table. However, it may require that we sit with those that no one else is inviting to the table.