19 He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2 A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7 All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” 8 Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” 9 Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax-collection station, and he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And he got up, left everything, and followed him.
29 Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others reclining at the table with them. 30 The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick; 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
There are two “tax collector tales” told by Luke in his gospel. Both have a person (Matthew Levi or Zacchaeus) called by Jesus. And in both accounts, Jesus is invited to the home of the new disciple. In the Zacchaeus story, Jesus is the honored guest, and the former tax collector offers up half of his possession as gifts to the poor. That’s generosity. In the Matthew story, Jesus is the guest of honor at a dinner, and Levi also shares a wonderful meal with other tax collectors whom he has invited, hoping they too might meet the One who calls. That’s evangelism. Both are heartfelt responses to our meeting Jesus.
Dear Jesus, as I have heard you call me by name, let the responses of sharing my possession with your less fortunate children, and sharing the good news with those for whom I care, flow from my heart. Make me an active follower and disciple, I pray in your holy name. Amen.