This morning I was sitting outside reading the story of Zacchaeus and some things hit me fresh and new or should I say in a very practical way! A man named Zacchaeus heard that Jesus would be passing through Jericho and he wanted to know who Jesus was, but he was a very short man and knew that he would not be able to see for the crowd. Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed up in a sycamore-fig tree to see Jesus as he passed by that way.
Zacchaeus was a tax collector and he was very opposed by the Jews because the money from taxes supported the secular government and its pagan gods. It was common knowledge that tax collectors were making themselves rich by gouging their fellow Jews. Basically, Zacchaeus was a cheater and turncoat. In society, this man was considered “untouchable” because of political views and immoral behavior.
How many “untouchables” are actually in our sphere of influence?
When Jesus passed by the spot where Zacchaeus was up in the sycamore-fig tree he said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
If you notice in the picture, Zacchaeus is pointing at himself. This is where Jesus is telling Zacchaeus that he is going to stay at his house this day!
Quite the uproar developed that day among the people as they began to mutter in shock about Jesus going to be the guest of a sinner! Zacchaeus was indeed a very crooked tax collector.
Something happened though…
Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus then said to him, “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 what was lost.”
After he met Jesus, he realized that his life needed straightening out. By giving to the poor and making restitution – with generous interest – to those he had cheated, Zacchaeus demonstrated inward change by outward action. We MUST show our faith by changed behavior. Following Jesus in your head or heart alone is not enough. We need to be asking ourselves, has my faith resulted in action?
What does this changed behavior look like?
We cannot be “the people” in this story that are in an uproar about Jesus eating with a sinner. We must be “Jesus” to the “untouchables”! Jesus still loves to bring the lost into his kingdom, regardless of their background or previous way of life. I'm learning that sometimes there is an instant change that looks radical and others it looks very gradual and takes a little more time.
I am so thankful that my previous way of life didn’t stop Jesus from coming to me and confronting me in my sin with His gentle and forgiving love.
Lord Jesus… please help me love people like you do! I want to extend the same mercy and grace to others that you so lovingly extended to me:)