21 November 2017
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”
The story of Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus, which only appears in Luke, is a favourite for many of us.
Perhaps that’s because it’s funny.
Well, you must admit it’s a little comical. A wealthy tax collector who is in league with the Roman occupying forces and hated by his fellow Jews (because he extracts taxes from his compatriots under threat of violence and keeps a fair whack for himself), runs ahead of the crowd and scrambles up a tree because something inside him knows that he just has to see Jesus and, well, he’s short.
Jesus stops at the bottom of the tree, looks up, speaks Zacchaeus’ name and then invites himself to dinner. I would love to have seen Zacchaeus’ face.
The crowd, however, did not see the humour in the situation. It is hard for us to grasp at this distance just how despised tax collectors were. It was no small thing for Jesus to dine with Zacchaeus. Table fellowship, then as now, signifies welcome and community. Not for the first time, Jesus’ prophetic action went way beyond what was reasonable. The love and power that flowed in the presence of the Lord overwhelmed the blackness in Zacchaeus’ heart. His journey to repentance and life began in earnest that day.
It’s just like Jesus to see beyond Zacchaeus as he presented on the day and to see him as he would be once grace got hold of him. The crowds looked at Zacchaeus and saw the problem. Jesus looked and saw the potential.
You and I can pray for the same grace.
Do it today: Think about someone you know who is in a bad place, someone you really struggle with, and ask Jesus to let you see them as He sees them. What will they look like once grace has overwhelmed them? Pray that vision over their life!
Note, you might end up with a dinner invitation…