Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” 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. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:1-10 (NLT)
I’m always dumfounded when I read this passage. The crowds following Jesus were displeased that he would go to the house of a despised tax collector. That just didn’t make sense – not that Jesus went to the tax collector’s house – but that the crowd disapproved.
For at least two reasons:
1. The crowd was made up of people – people with both memory and conscience. For them to disapprove of Jesus associating with a tax collector was just a bit hypocritical; they were no better on the inside. Perhaps they were a bit more “respectable” (whatever that is) but, deep down, they knew they only envied Zacchaeus’ wealth. They were no more righteous than the tax crook.
2. If there was anybody on the planet or in the universe who could change things between
Zacchaeus and the people from whom he extorted taxes, it was the Lord Jesus.
And, in fact, things did change with the little tax man – he gave back what he stole, and sweetened the pot with a four-fold return to his former victims.
This stabs the point home about say-so Christianity and do so Christianity.
It’s one thing to go to a revival, walk down the aisle, shake the preacher’s hand and tell him I’ve been touched by the Lord and now I’m born-again; where do I sign up for church membership. You could go home and never miss a beat in your life; no harm, no foul!
It’s quite another thing to confess you’ve been the town cheat (in front of everyone you’ve been cheating) and then empty your bank account to give it back, because you really have been born-again!
The old saying goes something like
Don’t talk the talk if you have no intention of walking the walk!
Is there a hole in your walk?
Is there something you promised to Christ, but somehow you never got around to the Zacchaeus-level of commitment?
Today might be a grand place to begin.