Alison Ebright serves on staff at Resurrection as the Assistant Director of Resurrection Music Academy.
Scripture only tells us a little about Zacchaeus, the infamous “wee little man” who climbed a tree to see Jesus. We know that he definitely fell into the category of “sinners and tax collectors” that Jesus used to hang with. And as chief tax collector, we can imagine that he was probably pretty ruthless in his pursuit of power and wealth (which of course came at the literal cost of those in his community). Probably not the guy everyone wanted as their BFF.
But like so many others, when Zacchaeus found himself in the presence of Jesus, his life radically changed.
First of all, instead of taking the opportunity to call him out in public about his reputation and many sins, Jesus chose to call Zacchaeus by name. And then Jesus dignified him by not only inviting him to come down and to meet, but by inviting Himself to come and stay in Zacchaeus’ home (the home of a tax collector – gasp!). I’m sure the crowd could have had plenty of other plans for Jesus during His stay there, but He made it clear that He was ready to dive in and invest in this guy.
I so wish I could have been there to see Zacchaeus’ response.
Luke tells us that he came down at once, and then he welcomed him gladly. Not begrudgingly. Not out of guilt or fear. But rather, in the presence of Christ, He was newly accepted and forgiven, and his eyes were opened to a different kind of impact his life could have in the world. I can only imagine how it must have felt for him to stand up–to really stand up–before Jesus, and gladly offer in response what he had to give. As Jesus said, salvation really did come to this man.
Of course, everyone else’s response to this gracious exchange was the all-too-easy and common reaction: grumbling. Rather than celebrate another life stunningly changed for good, their focus immediately zoomed back to themselves, and probably to conversations about things like “fairness” and “corruption” and “sin.” They knew this guy, and they wanted to be the judge.
Who is it in your life that, if saved and forgiven and changed by God, would cause you to grumble? The person who took advantage of you…hurt you…disappointed you…fired you…left you…doubted you…judged you….or you fill in the blank? I would encourage you to pray today for anyone who comes to mind, and pray that the Lord would cleanse and change our grumbling hearts once more, and let us instead truly rejoice with those who rejoice. And that you, like Zacchaeus, could find strength today in the joy of your salvation, and being beloved by the One who calls you by name. And that we would gladly give him our hearts and all we have.