Dec. 1st, 09
Luke 19:6-7 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.
I think we’ve trivialized this story about the p
int-sized, sitting in the tree, IRS agent, and may have missed some of the importance of its message. It is great that this overly-rich, despised tax-collector had any interest in seeing/hearing/meeting Jesus. He goes to some lengths to find a perch from which to view the procession into town by the wandering messiah. Jesus sees Zach, and calls him by name, (with no mention how Jesus knew), and immediately Jesus invites himself to Zach’s house! Zach hurry’s down from the tree, takes Jesus home, and even before it’s recorded whether they eat a meal together or not, Zacchaeus declares he will give half his wealth to the poor, and repay those he’s wronged 4-fold! Wow! (Isn’t it amazing, and somewhat staggering to think what the simple act of meeting someone on their turf, might mean to their life, and for the Kingdom?) Jesus commends him for this gesture, and openly declares that Zach is now saved, and is a true Son of Abraham!
What struck me today was the response of the on-looking people: they were displeased that Jesus would go to the home of a notorious sinner! Jesus answers this “heart of the matter” issue with his concluding statement: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” And I wonder…are we who (try to) follow Jesus supposed to spend time with “notorious” sinners? Are we who’ve been notorious sinners to join Jesus in this seeking and saving business? Are we more like Zacchaeus or more like the displeased bystanders? Are we quick and joyful with the news that Jesus wants to visit our homes, or are we mad that Jesus hangs out with sinners? Are we willing to give away half our wealth, and repay 4-fold for the wrongs we’ve done to others…or are we more interested in criticizing Jesus who elevates such actions to ‘salvation’ status? I’m not so sure that the crowds displeasure is so much related to Zach’s sinfulness, as much as Jesus’ insistence that meeting him might cost them (us) half of what we possess, and a 4-fold reparation for our stolen wealth!
I know what it feels like to be criticized for ‘hanging out’ with sinners, instead of ‘hand-holding’ the saints…and it feels good to know I’m in good company…I wish I was in that company more often.