Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:1-10
Through His journey through various towns and villages, Jesus passed through the town of Jericho. Jericho was the Promised Land that the Israelites received when the Lord instructed Joshua and his people to march around the city seven times. Through their obedience, God made the walls of Jericho fall! However, over the centuries and due to Israel’s disobedience, they lost sovereignty of those lands, and now it was under the Roman Empire.
In this passage, we need find Zacchaeus who was a Jewish man living in Jericho shunned by his own people because he had decided that his success was going to come from collecting taxes from his fellow Jewish people. He used extortion as a means of living in the so called Promised Land. In reality, he had lost his true identity until he met Jesus!
Despite Zacchaeus’ sins against his countrymen, Jesus chose to spend time with him in his house. He saw Zacchaeus as a lost sheep who needed to come back to the flock. Jesus did not seek the Pharisees because they did not see themselves as sick or in need of help. They probably had the respect of people even if it was superficial, so they did not find themselves in desperate need to change anything in their lives! However, while Zacchaeus had his wealth, he did not have the respect of his countrymen. I wonder if he had any friends except his fellow tax collectors. His only friendships may have come from those who also had had chosen to sell themselves, for a bowl of proverbial stew, to the Roman Empire.
When Jesus called Zacchaeus’s name and went to his house, it changed everything for him! On the one hand, Zacchaeus must have felt special and accepted, but on the other hand, his sins must have been right before his eyes. What if he used the beautiful dishes of a widow who had to given up her wedding gift to pay her taxes!? What if the rug they were sitting on came from a family of six who could not afford to pay their taxes!? What if the beautiful picture on the wall had have come from a son who gave up that which he had inherited from his father to pay his taxes!? Every place Jesus looked upon, could have brought to Zacchaeus, the memory of how he obtained those beautiful items. Finally, Zacchaeus could not stand it any longer. He wanted to get his life right with the Lord and enjoy the peace and the rest of God. Jesus’ acceptance had caused all these beautiful things to lose their value and luster. He was ready to give it all up and keep the joy and acceptance that he received in being with Jesus!
This is how Jesus works in our lives as well. He doesn’t come making demands of us to give up our sins, but He comes with His piercing eyes and a heart of love! He looks at us with acceptance and concern. In His eyes, we see that we are far more valuable than selling ourselves to a worldly version of success and acceptance! His concern is that we are genuine and vulnerable with God and are not just trying to play the role of a good Christian!
When we give Him room to come into our hearts, we cannot stand having Jesus walk around the various rooms and see the stuff that are contrary to His desires. The conviction rises up and we feel like it’s time to change! I don’t want Jesus to look at things that make Him uncomfortable to be here! He is worthy for me to let go of anything that does not please Him! How about you? If Jesus were to come to your home, what will he see? What has to change for Jesus to feel welcome in your life?
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay