“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in” – Robert Frost
“There’s no place like home.” This iconic line was spoken by Dorothy, played by Judy Garland, in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. Most people have a fond memory of home as a safe, warm, comforting place that we can always return to for unconditional love. Quotes like “there’s no place like home” or “home is where the heart is” reinforce this notion. There is a Bible story that illustrates why there is no place like home.
Jesus was surrounded by people. The news that Jesus was coming by generated large crowds. People were talking about how Jesus had healed people, making life possible for them again. It made people believe that things could be different, that life could be different, that one could have hope of a better tomorrow. Jesus regularly dealt with people no one else wanted to deal with. Zacchaeus was one of those people. Zacchaeus was a tax collector; he was hated because he collaborated with the hated Romans, and got rich by taking advantage of his fellow countrymen. No one wanted anything to do with a tax collector.
That day, people lined the streets of Jericho. Jesus was coming. Zacchaeus had heard the stories about Jesus and wondered if the stories were true. He wondered if Jesus is the one person in his city/country who will accept him as he is. But finding that out was problematic. There was little hope of standing out in the crowd. Zacchaeus was too short to see over the heads of the people and trying to maneuver through the crowd to the front of the line as a tax collector was ill-advised and probably impossible anyway. But Zacchaeus is determined, so he climbs a tree. The noise in the crowd gets louder as Jesus approaches. Jesus makes his way over to the tree and says, “Zacchaeus!…Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” (Luke 19:5)
Imagine for a second that you are the person up in the tree. It is you looking down the road, hoping that what you’ve heard about Jesus is true. That whatever it is in your life that sets you apart, that makes you unwanted by your family and friends, that Jesus can change the course of your life for the better. You hope there is a place where you belong, a place where people accept you as you are. Imagine that Jesus would come to your house.
The transformation of Zacchaeus began when Jesus came to his house. Zacchaeus became a very generous person and a person of integrity. Jesus put it this way: “Salvation has come to this home today…” (Luke 19:9)
Zacchaeus’ story reminds us of a stark reality. His story reminds us that someone is always in the sycamore tree, hoping and praying not to be an outsider anymore, hoping to find meaning and purpose in life. Zacchaeus’ story reminds us to look for those individuals. As followers of Jesus, we are called to invite them down from the tree, to travel to their home as Christ’s representative, and to invite them to find a home as a follower of Jesus and as a brother and sister in Christ.
- What are some of the first things you would do if you knew Jesus was coming to your house? Would you take more time preparing your heart or house?
- What can we do this week to better come home to God?