12 June 2012Luke 19:1-10
"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.'" (v. 5)
Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, a man at the top of his
profession. He would have made money on the side and probably from
those tax collectors who worked under him too. He would have been
disliked by those around him for the wealth that he had gained
dishonestly. Zacchaeus would most likely have been a lonely man, an
outcast from the very crowd in which he was standing. In this
passage he is desperate to see Jesus, so much so that he climbs a
tree to be able to catch a glimpse of him as he passes. He put
aside any concerns for how it would look to others, and climbed the
tree regardless of what people may say. Zacchaeus makes himself
vulnerable for the sake of meeting Jesus, risking ridicule and
comments from those around. As Jesus approaches he says to
Zacchaeus that he "must stay" at his house - less of an offer, more
of a necessity. Having Jesus at his house would have been an honour
Zacchaeus didn't expect. He had come simply hoping to see Jesus
from afar: Jesus, however, was expecting to spend time with
Now the crowd begins to grumble. Initially the crowd had been with Jesus, but as he begins to challenge their prejudices about spending time with a sinner they turn against him. Jesus had behaved in a manner that they hadn't expected, but Jesus was making a powerful statement that he has come for the sinners, the outcasts and the vulnerable.
Zacchaeus offers half of his possessions to the poor and to pay back four times the amount of anyone he has cheated. This went far beyond what was legally necessary. Repentance for Zacchaeus involved restitution, practically showing people that he was a changed man. He did not move to a different place but stayed in the community where he was hated to make amends and re-establish himself. Zacchaues had been 'lost'; he had been far from God. He was on the fringe of his community, he was on the fringe of the crowd, but Jesus met with him there and he was transformed.
Who is on the fringes of your community/church? How will you meet them where they are?
To what extent are you ready and willing to put yourself out to meet Jesus regardless of what other people may say?