Dealers of Hope Part III

Welcome or Wanted 

Jesus was walking the dusty, well-worn, trail entering Jericho. There was a man in Jericho by the name of Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector, and he was known to be very wealthy. Zacchaeus had a problem. He was short in stature. Because of that reality he climbed into a tree so he could see this Jesus that he had heard so much about. How inquisitive he must have been.  
When Jesus reached the location of the tree, he looked up and saw Zacchaeus straddling one branch between his legs and holding on to another to maintain his balance. Jesus said to him, “come down immediately I must stay at your house today.”  “So, he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.” “All the people saw this and began to mutter, he has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”   
Zacchaeus, unexpectedly, felt he had to justify himself or his self-righteousness and went on to testify to how he supported those in need by liberally giving money. Jesus could see his heart and his desire to do the right and noble thing by giving his money to others. Jesus was not interested in his money nor was it the point of this conversation. He was engaging with this man’s troubled but searching heart for something more than what he had experienced in life. Something that money could not provide. Real life! 
Jesus replied to Zacchaeus’ statements with, “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.” 
It was no accident that Jesus knew where Zacchaeus would be waiting. Jesus knows what is in the hearts of us all and our geographic location is no secret to him. The local citizenry was very judgmental of Zacchaeus and assumed that he was involved with nefarious activities because of what he did for a living. And who is this Jesus, the self-proclaimed Son of God that he would go to a known sinner’s house anyway? 
Isn’t it amazing that the Son of God went looking for Zacchaeus? Jesus came to this earth seeking you and I just like he did Zacchaeus. I also find it interesting that Jesus did not just make a broad invitation to those around him, he was purposeful in his search of this man.  
In today’s culture the welcome signs are displayed, in many places. A popular location is church signage or advertisements. Even though the intent of the welcome sign is needed and honorable, there is nothing like being pursued, sought after, and wanted.  
Have you ever been in a situation where you were invited to an event? You were welcomed but you really did not feel very wanted? Inside a busy room or garden area you stood around, sipping a drink and or munching on tasty snacks. It was awkward just standing there, so you played with your cell phone, pretending that someone on the line wanted you or you were tending to other important matters. You were welcome, but you did not feel very wanted. You see being wanted has the clear understanding of you are included, you are valued, and you belong here. The very act of seeking people out communicates I want you. Being wanted also makes you feel like you have something valuable to share with others.  
That is what Jesus did. He sought people out! We can all sense when we are wanted or just welcome. It is certainly honorable to be welcomed but it can be life altering to be wanted by someone.  
What does, to want someone, look like? Jesus gave a fitting example. He initiated the relationship with Zacchaeus, and he strengthened it by inviting himself to his home. Relationships are strengthened by proximity. In western culture we might think that was rude of Jesus. In the culture of that day, going to someone’s house was an honor. 
One of the words for love in the Bible is the Greek word, agape. This kind of love is the epitome of how God displayed his love for humanity. Jesus moved towards us with our best interest in mind. People know when real love is expressed. Real love never feels like just an invitation of “you are welcome.”  It very much feels like, “I want you in my life.” 
It is my summation that if all of us simply grasped and practiced this concept of wanting people in our life, and not just welcoming them, it would change our world. If you will risk practicing this concept of wanting versus being welcome, in your family, neighborhood, workplace, school, church, etc. you will be a very blessed person. Those you invite into your life have something very precious to give you! 
Has Jesus impacted your life? You have a story to tell and there are Zacchaeus’ waiting to hear your story. Your story is most impacting when people know they are wanted and not just welcomed by you. There are people in your life who simply long to be wanted! 

1 Comment

Leslie Weseman - February 12th, 2024 at 11:21am

It seems like our generation has forgotten how to invite people in. We need to get back to that again.